Automatic Telephone Switchboard
This view of an interior in our great mercantile institution represents what is undoubtedly one of the great inventions of this electrical age. It is located in the basement of the Administration Building and is our automatic telephone switchboard. We have installed automatic telephones throughout our entire establishment for interdepartmental communication. We therefore own our own telephone plant as used by department managers and their assistants. The great advantage of this system lies in the fact that the switchboard is purely automatic, no switchboard operators being required. You will notice in the foreground, resting on the bell box, what looks like an ordinary telephone1. In the center of this instrument you wiii observe a dial with notches arouild the right half; these notches are numbered from one to ten. This dial revolves to the left, and to get a given department, say No. 123, the receiver is taken off the hook, the index finger inserted in notch number one and the dial pulled around to the left until the finger strikes the index just to the left of the lower center of the dial, when the dial is released and permitted to return to its original position; then the finger is inserted in notch number two and the operation repeated; then the finger is inserted in notch number three and the dial turned to the left as before. This has registered in the automatic switchboard the connection for phone No. 123, and when you press a button in the base of the instrument it rings the bell in department 123, just the same as it would be rung by a girl calling from the ordinary switchboard. The great advantage in this style of telephone is that communications pass from one department to another in absolute confidence. It is not possible for anyone else to hear a conversation passing over the wire. We have 325 automatic telephones installed in this plant. In addition to this automatic telephone system we also employ the services of the Chicago Telephone Co. for long distance purposes, as illustrated and explained in another view.
1The telephone shown is a 1905 Strowger Automatic “Potbelly” Candlestick. This is considered to be the first dial telephone.