Some technology news from the past. This story tells of having dials added to a telephone so that a person could connect to another without the use of an operator.
THE MONROE COUNTY MAIL
Thursday, November 5, 1914
AUTOMATIC TELEPHONE TREMENDOUS SUCCESS IN BUFFALO.
Federal Telephone Traffic More Than Doubled by Use of New Wonder Instrument and Both Business Men an Housewives Show a Distinct Preference for it.
The Automatic Telephone service has convinced Buffaloians that the Federal Telephone and Telegraph Company has made a tremendous advance along the lines of simplifying and facilitating business by the adoption of the Automatic system.
The first half day of service 112,000 call flashed through the various exchanges, a number that has grown steadily every day until now upwards of 400,000 calls are completed daily. This is twice the number ever handled in one day by the old manual service the company recently discarded for the Automatic. This would seem to prove a distinct public preference for the industrious little mechanical operator, over the old way.
Apart from the superb service the system affords, the instantaneous calls and disconnects and the sharp, clear reproduction of voice tones, what has impressed the Buffalo public more than anything else is the nervelessness and mystery of it all.
To touch a little dial and instantly hear the voice of the very person you want is surely a unique experience. Being a machine, of course, it does not make mistakes; it doesn’t know enough to make a mistake. It affords the same sort of service, which is perfect service, at all times of the day or night. It never tires, never grows ruffled or discourteous and isn’t subject to whims or caprices of persons or weather.
The method of operation, we are told, is very simple. First the caller finds the number of the person desired. Even the Automatic directory is an improvement on the old one, and a unique arrangement of names, numbers and addresses hastens the work of looking for numbers very materially.
Assume that the number wanted is 44327. The subscriber first removes the receiver from the hook, puts the finger in the aperture over the figure “4”, then pulls down; then the same operation on 4-3-2-7 and the call is complete. Almost instantly the number desired answers. If perchance the called party is slow in answering, there is no uncertainty so far as the subscriber is concerned; the subscriber can hear the vibrations and knows the bell is ringing at intervals of seven seconds.
In the case the line is busy when a call is made, a mechanical device so informs the caller by means of the “busy buzz,” a persistent but not unpleasant buzz in the receiver.
Every possible contingency is provided against in this new system. For example, if a person calls a number that has been discontinued, his call goes automatically to a supervisor who says, “You are calling a number that has been discontinued.”
In case of trouble the location and nature of the trouble is shown on a battery of lights in the switchroom and the trouble is remedied nine times out of ten before the subscriber knows his line is in trouble.
In all the large department stores large automatic exchanges have been installed and they promise to revolutionize shopping for Buffalo women. The Automatic is so flexible that the housewife can sit in her own home, dial four figures and figuratively be in the midst of all the rush and excitement of the buying center. A skilled saleswoman answers her and takes her order or discusses requirements.
The first day this system was in operation at the Wm. Henegerer && Co store, four times the usual number of calls were recorded, which indicates that the Automatic is firmly established among the housewives of Buffalo.
It is plainly a triumph of mechanical art and marks a great advance in the telephone business in Western New York.