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Telecom Timeline
1900-1949
1950-2000
2000- Present

Pre 1900

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This history of telecommunications is a long and interesting one. What started as carrier pigeons carring messages turned into American Telephone and Telegraph all before the year 1900.

It is during this early time that the world is transformed by the miracle of instant communications.

1200 BC
Homer talks about signal fires in the Illiad. #TelecomTimeline
0300 AD
Carrier pigeons used in Olympic games #TelecomTimeline
1588
Arrival of the Spanish Armada announced by signal fires #TelecomTimeline
1791
The Chappe brothers. in France, set up a signaling system so they could send messages to each other. #TelecomTimeline
1793
The Chappe brothers established the first commercial semaphore system between two locations near Paris. #TelecomTimeline
1800
A line of canon from Buffalo to NYC used to announce Gov. DeWitt Clinton's inaugural trip through the Erie Canal. It took 80 minutes.
1837
Cooke and Wheatstone obtain a patent on telegraph. Morse publicly demonstrates his telegraph. #TelecomTimeline
1840
Congress was requested to provide funding for a semaphore system running from NYC to New Orleans. #TelecomTimeline
1843
FAX invented by the Scotch physicist Alexander Bain. #TelecomTimeline
1844
Morse demonstrates the electric telegraph. #TelecomTimeline
1844
Morse's first telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore opens in May. #TelecomTimeline
1847 (March 3)
Birth of Alexander Graham Bell, Edinburgh, Scotland. #TelecomTimeline
1851
There are 51 telegraph companies in operation #TelecomTimeline
1856
Western Union formed by six men from Rochester, N.Y. They start an acquisition spree. #TelecomTimeline
1858
Edwin T. Holmes of Boston begins selling electric burglar alarms. His workshop will be used by Alexander Graham Bell. #TelecomTimeline
1861
Both coasts are connected. There are now 2250 telegraph offices in operation nationwide. #TelecomTimeline
1865
Maxwell mathematically predicts the propagation of electromagnetic waves through space. #TelecomTimeline
1866
First transatlantic telegraph line successfully laid. Prior to the cable, sending messages between the US and Europe took 11 days.
1866
Uninterrupted transatlantic communications are established with the successful laying of the first telegraph cable on 27 July.
1867
The first Atlantic cable, promoted by Cyrus Field, was layed on July 27th. #TelecomTimeline
1870
Thomas Edison invents multiplex telegraphy. #TelecomTimeline
1871 (April 1)
Bell arrived in Boston to start his work in the teaching of the deaf. #TelecomTimeline
1872
Western Union buys the telegraph equipment manufacturing firm, Gray & Barton, and renamed it Western Electric. #TelecomTimeline
1875 (June 2)
Bell's theory of the telephone confirmed by experiment. #TelecomTimeline
1875
First words transmitted by telephone. #TelecomTimeline
1876 (June 25)
Bell exhibited the telephone to the judges at the Centennial Exposi-tion, Philadelphia. #TelecomTimeline
1876 (March 10)
First complete sentence of speech transmitted by telephone in Boston. #TelecomTimeline
1876 (March 7)
The first telephone patent, No. 174,465 was issued to Alexander Graham Bell. #TelecomTimeline
1876 (October 9)
Bell conducted the first successful experimental two-way talk over the telephone between Boston and Com-bridgeport, Mass.
1876
Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. Elisha Gray files a patent application 3 hours after Bell. #TelecomTimeline
1876
Edison invents the electric motor and the phonograph. #TelecomTimeline
1876
First complete sentence transmitted by telephone. First conversation by overhead line, 2 miles-Boston to Cambridgeport.
1877
Bell Telephone Company formed, with Alexander Graham Bell as "electrician" and Thomas Watson as "superintendent." #TelecomTimeline
1877
Western Union has first telephone line in operation between Somerville, MA and Boston. #TelecomTimeline
1878 (January 28)
First commercial telephone exchange in the world opened at New Haven, Conn. #TelecomTimeline
1878
First telephone directory, New Haven, CT, and had 21 listings. #TelecomTimeline
1880
30,872 Bell telephone stations in the United States. Conversation by overhead line, 45 miles-Boston to Providence. #TelecomTimeline
1880
American Bell founded. 30,000 phones in use. Bell spoke over a 1300-ft beam of light using his patented Photophone equipment.
1881
Bell Telephone company purchases Western Electric Company. #TelecomTimeline
1881
Conversation by underground cable, 3/4 mile. #TelecomTimeline
1881
First long-distance line, between Boston and Providence, R.I. #TelecomTimeline
1881
Mr. Eckert who ran a telephone company in Cincinnati said he preferred the use of females to males as operators. #TelecomTimeline
1882
Bell has controlling interest in Western Union and Western Electric. #TelecomTimeline
1884 (September 4)
Opening of telephone service between Boston and New York, 235 miles. #TelecomTimeline
1884
Conversation by overhead line (hard-drawn copper), 235 miles. Boston to New York. #TelecomTimeline
1884
First long distance call. Boston to NYC. #TelecomTimeline
1885 (March 3)
Incorporation of American Telephone and Telegraph Company, New York City. #TelecomTimeline
1885
The Bell Telephone Company formed a new subsidiary, American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T). #TelecomTimeline
1885
Theodore Vail becomes President of AT&T. Leaves in 1887 to go to South America to install electric traction systems. #TelecomTimeline
1887
Heinrich Hertz shows that electromagnetic waves exist. #TelecomTimeline
1887
Idea of automatic exchange (Russia). #TelecomTimeline
1888
Heinrich Hertz produces radio waves. #TelecomTimeline
1889
Almon B. Strowger invents switch having line contacts in circular rows inside a cylinder. Controlled by push-buttons on telephone.
1889
Gray (USA) Installation of first payphone for coins in bank in Hartford at Connecticut (USA) by patented idea of William Gray.
1890
211,503 Bell telephone stations. #TelecomTimeline
1890
Herman Hollerith gets a contract for processing the 1900 census data using punched cards. His firm was eventually named IBM in 1924.
1890
Introduction to receiver ring-shaped magnet. #TelecomTimeline
1890
White (USA) Invention of carbon contact microphone with carbon powder between two electrodes, where one is movable. #TelecomTimeline
1891
First "under sea" cable between France and Great Britain. #TelecomTimeline
1891
Formation of Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange. #TelecomTimeline
1891
Invention of 1,000 line switch with disc bank having ten concentric rows of line contacts. Not used commercially. #TelecomTimeline
1892 (October 18)
Opening of long distance telephone service, New York to Chicago, 950 miles. #TelecomTimeline
1892
Almon Strowger became upset when wife of a competitor, a telephone operator, made his line busy and xferred his calls to her husband.
1892
Conversation by overhead line, 900 miles-New York to Chicago. #TelecomTimeline
1892
First commercial Strowger installation —. LaPorte, Indiana, USA. Used switcher with 100 line disc-type banks. #TelecomTimeline
1892
The first automatic C.O. was installed in LaPorte, Indiana. #TelecomTimeline
1893
An early form of broadcasting was started in Budapest over 220 miles of telephone wires serving 6000 subscribers. #TelecomTimeline
1893
Heaviside and Thompson (USA) Idea of artificially increase induction to counteract bad results of capacity. #TelecomTimeline
1894
200-line "zither" board with ratchet drive installed at LaPorte, Indiana, USA. #TelecomTimeline
1894
Basic patents expire—. period of intense competition begins. #TelecomTimeline
1894
Invention of gear-driven switch with "zither" (piano wire) line banks. Not used commercially. #TelecomTimeline
1895
Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio. #TelecomTimeline
1895
Installation payphones in town hall in Milwaukee. #TelecomTimeline
1895
Introduction of signalization lamps instead of floppies. #TelecomTimeline
1895
Invention of earliest dial-type calling device. #TelecomTimeline
1895
Third installation at LaPorte, Indiana. Earliest use of switch with semi-cylindrical bank and shaft with vertical and rotary motions.
1896
Introduction to phone, inductor (generator of signalization currents). #TelecomTimeline
1896
Invention of selector trunking—. first use of dial telephones in large exchange (Augusta, Georgia, USA). #TelecomTimeline
1896
Keith and Erickson (USA) Invention of rotary-dial device. #TelecomTimeline
1896
Marconi patents wireless telegraph. #TelecomTimeline
1898
Earliest use of relays for switch control instead of direct operation of magnets over line wires. First die cast switch frame.
1899
Name of Bell Telephone Company changed to American Telephone and Telegraph. #TelecomTimeline
1899
Pupin and also Campbell (USA) Invention of pupinization. #TelecomTimeline
1899
Strowger Automatic goes abroad (Berlin, Germany). Earliest use of automatic trunk selection with busy test. #TelecomTimeline