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November 17, 2016

18 Rare Vintage Photographs of Swedish Telephone Operators at the Turn of the Century

In the early days of telephony, through roughly the 1960s, companies used manual telephone switchboards, and switchboard operators connected calls by inserting a pair of phone plugs into the appropriate jacks. Each pair of plugs was part of a cord circuit with a switch associated that let the operator participate in the call. Each jack had a light above it that lit when the telephone receiver was lifted (the earliest systems required a generator on the phone to be cranked by hand). Lines from the central office were usually arranged along the bottom row.

On September 1, 1880, for the first time in Sweden, it became possible to place calls to a number of persons, to anyone who had a telephone that was connected to a telephone exchange. The first telephones that came to Sweden were simple Bell instruments that had been made in the United States. They were available in Stockholm at the end of 1877. One could only speak between two instruments that were connected to a fixed line. The same device served as both the receiver and microphone, so that callers had to move the "open" end between ear and mouth during a call.

When telephones had been developed to the point where they had a special microphone and a bell, they could be linked together in telephone networks. This required a telephone switch in a telephone exchange, plus operators who made the connections.


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