On The Bricks

August 4, 2020…telephones

The telephone is a remarkable instrument and its history is interesting. From the first concept of a voice being transmitted to today’s cell phone is amazing. But this little bit of its history shows us, it is interesting, but it wasn’t easy!

The phone has been one of the most profitable inventions in the history of the United States. Today it is the most used piece of communication equipment in the world. Globally, about $1 trillion is spent annually on telecommunications products and services.

It started in 1667, when Robert Hooke invented a string telephone that conveyed sounds over an extended wire by mechanical vibrations. It was to be termed an ‘acoustic’ or ‘mechanical’ (non-electrical) telephone.

Charles Morrison proposed in 1753 the idea that electricity can be used to transmit messages, by using different wires for each letter.

Charles Bourseul wrote a memorandum, in 1854, on the principles of the telephone. In 1854, Antonio Meucci demonstrates an electric voice – operated device in New York. Philipp Reis, in 1861, constructed the first speech – transmitting telephone

On Dec. 28, 1871, Antonio Meucci filed a patent caveat for a device he named “Sound Telegraph”.

Elisha Gray establishes Western Electric Manufacturing Company in 1872.

On July 1, 1875, Bell uses a bi – directional “gallows” telephone that was able to transmit “voicelike sounds”, but not clear speech. Both the transmitter and the receiver were identical membrane electromagnet instruments.

Thomas Edison experimented with acoustic telegraphy and in November of 1875 builds an electro – dynamic receiver.

Also in the year 1875, Hungarian Tivadar Puskás (the inventor of telephone exchange) arrived in the United States and Bell’s U.S. Patent 161,739 “Transmitters and Receivers for Electric Telegraphs” is granted on Apr. 6, 1875. This used multiple vibrating steel reeds in make – break circuits, and the concept of multiplexed frequencies. Bell signed and notarized his patent application for the telephone on Jan. 20, 1876.

Elisha Gray designs a liquid transmitter for use with a telephone, but did not build one, in February 1876. Bell’s U.S. patent No. 174,465 for the telephone is granted Mar. 7, 1876. Three days later, Bell transmits the sentence, “Mr. Watson, come here! I want to see you!” using a liquid transmitter and an electromagnetic receiver.

On Aug. 10, 1876, using the telegraph line between Brantford and Paris, Ontario, eight miles apart, Bell made a telephone call, said by some to be the world’s first long – distance call. Bell’s U.S. patent is granted on Jan. 30, 1877, for an electromagnetic telephone using permanent magnets, iron diaphragms, and a call bell.

Edison files for a patent on Apr. 27, 1877, for a carbon (graphite) transmitter. Patent was granted on May 3, 1892, after a 15 – year delay because of litigation. Edison was granted patent for a carbon granules transmitter in 1879.

The Scientific American in Oct. 1877 publishes the invention from Bell – at that time still without a ringer. The article is discussed at the Telegraphenamt in Berlin, Oct. 25, 1877.

The first commercial telephone company enters telephone business on Nov. 12, 1877, in Friedrichsberg, Germany, close to Berlin,using the Siemens pipe as ringer and telephone devices built by Siemens.

America’s first experimental Telephone Exchange in Boston is built in 1877.

Bell demonstrates the telephone to Queen Victoria on Jan. 14, 1878, and makes the first publicly – witnessed long – distance call in the UK. The queen tries the device and finds it to be “quite extraordinary”. First permanent telephone connection in the UK between two business in Manchester was finished Jan. 26, 1878.

The first commercial US telephone exchange opened in New Haven, Conn., on Jan. 28, 1878. Nine years later, Tivadar Puskás introduced the multiplex switchboard. The First U.S. coast-to-coast long-distance telephone call, ceremonially inaugurated by A.G. Bell in New York City and his former assistant Thomas Augustus Watson in San Francisco, California took place in 1915. It took a year to connect the first telephone line from New York to San Francisco. Approximately 14,000 miles of copper wire and 130,000 telephone poles were needed to link the country.

The initial transatlantic phone call took place in 1927, from the United States to the United Kingdom. Three years later, in the spring of 1930, the U.S. Senate almost voted to ban all dial telephones from the Senate wing of the Capitol, as the technophobic older senators found them too complicated to use.

The longest phone cable is a submarine cable called Fiber – Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG). It spans 16,800 miles from Japan to the United Kingdom and can carry 600,000 calls at a time. One million threads of fiber optic cable can fit in a tube one – half inch in diameter.

          The busiest organization in the world is the Pentagon, which has 34,500 phone lines and receives 1 million calls a day. It received more than 1.5 million phone calls on the 50th anniversary of D – Day.

Getting phone lines throughout rural America was a daunting task (as it was to take electricity there too). Bringing the telephone to the rural portions of the Oklahoma Panhandle started in the early 1950s when a Rural Electrification Administration representative from Washington, D.C. met in the Beaver County Farm Bureau facilities with a group of 35 individuals intent upon acquiring telephone service for themselves and their neighbors. Delegates from Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Harper, Texas, and Woodward counties attended meetings that followed.

The first PTCI manager, Earl Alden, was named. In 1956, the cooperative acquired its first REA loan of $515,000 for improvement of service to 506 subscribers, including 266 new members. Two years later, the cooperative cut over service to its first four exchanges: Adams, Balko / Bryans Corner, Floris, and Tyrone, with about 600 subscribers.

Robert Jeffries was named manager in early 1960. In the winter of 1960 Hardesty, Eva, Griggs, and Felt – Wheeless exchanges were added, soon followed by the Logan exchange in southern Beaver County, early 1962. Kenton exchange was added in 1963.

Their headquarters building, 603 S. Main Street in Guymon, was built in 1962 and continues to serve as the cooperative’s headquarters to this date. In 1967, the cooperative secured a loan from REA in the amount of $1,640,000 to upgrade service.

The year 1973 marked the upgrade of all exchanges to one – party service using all buried cable. The party line was soon to be history. The same year, the cooperative purchased the Turpin area from Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (who served the larger towns) with approximately 185 main stations.

Gary Kennedy, who had worked for the company since 1958, was chosen as CEO in 1979. The next year was the completion of the upgrade of all exchanges to one – party service using all buried cable.

In September 1983, the cooperative purchased the exchanges of Hooker and Forgan from Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. In 1987, the PTCI network completely converted to digital technology. PTSI entered the cellular telephone business in 1989.

In 1994, PTCI acquired eight new exchange areas from GTE, including Guymon. In December 1994, Gary Kennedy retired, and Ron Strecker became the Chief Executive Officer. He retired after 38 years with PTCI in 2012.

Shawn Hanson, began as General Manager and CEO. PTCI initiated a five to seven – year plan to bring fiber – to – the – home infrastructure to all of the exchanges in the Oklahoma Panhandle with construction beginning in 2015. 

Customers in Hooker were converted to fiber in 2019 and the same year began a five to seven year “Rural Surge” project, extending fiber to all the farms and ranches within our serving territory. The project replaces over 2,000 miles of outdated cable and provides high-speed internet to customers in remote location.

Today Jana Wallace is leading the company as CEO, working to bring these amazing and complicated telephones to us in our homes, autos, and purses. It wasn’t simple back then to get to where we had a good telephone. It isn’t simple now. But PTCI employees make it feel simple for us.  Thank you, PTCI!