Museum of Independent Telephony


In the late 1880s, aware that Bell Telephone Company's original 1876 patent would be expiring soon, potential competitors began setting up shop. By 1897, more than 6,000 independent companies had entered the U.S. telephone market. To advance their goal of providing inexpensive and reliable service, they welcomed the technological improvements made by mechanical and electrical engineers whose inventions had been stifled by Bell. Thus, many cities got rotary-dial phones and direct calling long before Bell offered the same services. The story of how these independents fostered telecommunications engineering is told through the museum's exhibits.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Electrical, Mechanical
Topic(s):
Grade:
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:The first commercial automatic-dial telephone system began service in La Porte, Indiana, in 1892. It used an automatic switch patented in 1891 by Almon Strowger, a Kansas undertaker. Legend has it that he wanted to find a way to bypass the local telephone operator, who Strowger believed was redirecting his business calls to a competing undertaker.
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