Thursday, October 12, 2017

Number Please

A promotional pamphlet entitled Number Please was distributed by the Sandusky Telephone Company about 1901. The phrase of course was a common expression used by operators of that time, and became recognized in popular culture; in volume 19 of the journal Telephony, for example, a brief article reported on a recent "dancing party" held  in 1910 for the employees of the Sandusky Telephone Company, where all of the musical numbers performed at the party were named for various terms related to using the telephone, including a waltz with the title Number Please

The booklet of the same name gave details about the newly remodeled offices of the company, then on the fourth floor of the Kingsbury Block in downtown Sandusky.

The Sandusky Telephone Company at that time claimed to render to its patrons “the highest efficiency in service and at the same time obtaining the greatest economy in operating and maintenance expense.” All subscribers had recently been given new telephones. Here are some examples of the telephones used by customers in the very early twentieth century:

The picture below from Number Please shows five operators handling a total of 1000 telephone lines.

The cable tower was made of steel, and was capable of withstanding immense strain. Twelve 100-pair cables led from the main telephone office to various points throughout Sandusky.

Historical data on page 21 of the pamphlet states that the Sandusky Telephone Company incorporated early in 1895, with 299 telephones in service. At that time, there were only two rooms for the exchange and office. The new telephone offices in 1901 occupied ten rooms and basement. In 1916 the Sandusky Telephone Company was re-organized into the Sandusky Home Telephone Company. In 1922  that company merged with Ohio Bell. In today’s world of wireless communication and smartphones, it is easy to forget that telephone service was so different in the early 1900s. 

No comments: