TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Ameritech Book Review (Thank You)

Ameritech Book Review (Thank You)
Fri, 6 May 2005 16:25:48 -0400

Thanks for the nice review of our "Snapshots in Time." When I was
hired as an intern by Bill Cauglin to catalog the Ohio Bell
collection, it seemed both sad and crazy that those picture might be
doomed to sit on shelves. The prototype for that book were simple
3-ring binders with copies of photos and some captions. We took the
Illinois binder to the State Fair and sent one to the Ohio Ameritech
office. I feel so happy that we were able to use those photos for
something educational, and, we hope for the old "Bell Heads,"
something inspirational.

I later presented a paper "From Princess to Coquette: The Role of the
Telephone in The American Home," at the American Poplular Culture
Conference. It was about how AT&T used a propaganda blitz to convince
people to get a second phone, and the eventual demise of the Dreyfuss
designs and the last gasp of design that gave us the "Design Line."

Thanks again.

404-562-3117 EXT. 642

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: As I mentioned to you in private email,
you are quite welcome. And it appears nothing has been said about that
book for several months, so a refresher review might be in order:

Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2004 23:35:50 -0500 (EST)

TELECOM Digest Sun, 22 Feb 2004 23:35:00 EST Volume 23 : Issue 87

Inside This Issue: Editor: Patrick A. Townson

Book Review: A Photographic History of Ameritech (TELECOM Digest Editor)

Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2004 22:57:22 EST
From: TELECOM Digest Editor <>
Subject: Book Review: A Photographic History of Ameritech

Did you know 'Ameritech' originally stood for
'(AM)erican (I)nformation (TECH)nologies, Inc.? You will learn that
and a lot more in a recent book "A Photographic History of Ameritech".

Subtitled 'Snapshots in Time', this photgraphic essay of the companies
which make up the present day north-central region of SBC is a brilliant
presentation of how our past evolved into our present.

Written and compiled by William D. Caughlin, the manager of Ameritech
Corporate Archives, with co-authors Brian F. Coffey and Ilana
N. Pergam, this 200-page large size paperback book uses pictures to
tell the story of the history of telephone service from its beginning
in 1876 through the end of 1999, when Ameritech (or Illinois Bell as
most of us knew it) became part of SBC, or what we knew as
Southwestern Bell.

When Alex Bell invented the telephone in March, 1876, many considered
it just a novelty, an electrical toy. Everyone -- at least all readers
of this Digest -- are aware of how Western Union essentially thumbed
its nose at the invention, a snub that about a century later would put
it out of business, along with email showing up a few years later.

The Chicago Telephonic Exchange was founded on June 26, 1878 to serve
the needs of Chicago businessmen. When the general public also wanted
phone service, the Chicago Telephonic Exchange merged with a competitor
to form the Chicago Telephone Company, in business from 1881 through
1920 to provide local service around the city. About the same time,
(1883-1920) Central Union Telephone Company started offering service
in other parts of northern and central Illinois.

Actually ahead of Chicago by about 9 months (it started in October,
1877) was the Michigan Telephone and Telegraph Construction Company,
which was the nation's first Bell Operating Company. Like Chicago,
their first interest was private line service for businesses, but on
August 5, 1878 the Detroit Telephonic Exchange opened for business.
During 1879, telephone exchanges were established in several towns
throughout Michigan, and after two years, in 1881, these various
Michigan exchanges were affiliated in the Michigan Bell Telephone
Company, and two years following that, in 1883 (through 1904) the
Michigan Telephone Company was formed.

Then comes January, 1879 and the Columbus, Ohio Telephone Exchange. By
the end of 1879, there were cities all over Ohio with phone service.
It was about that time, that telephone switchboards were started.
In the earliest days telephones were all connected directly to each
other: in other words if company A had a phone and company B had a
phone and Company C wanted to talk to A and B they had to have two
telephones, one each to A and B. Multiply that by the number of
companies in Chicago alone and you can see why the skies overhead were
black with telephone wires running in all directions. Most companies
had a phone to most other companies, so typically there were wires
running through the air everywhere. Ditto in Detroit, Cleveland and

In March, 1879, Ameritech's first predecessor in Indiana -- the
Indiana District Telephone Company began operations in Indianapolis.
It eventually became part of the Central Union Telephone Company
and had phone exchanges all over the state. Milwaukee's first
switchboard opened in 1879, and in July, 1882 (through 1983) the
Wisconsin Telephone Company was incorporated to serve that state.

These five companies -- Central Union, Chicago Telephone, Cleveland
Telephone, Michigan Telephone and Wisconsin Telephone became known as
Associated Companies in the Bell System, and that is what this
photographic essay is all about: The 1876 through 1999 period as
those five companies were born, developed, merged then merged again
and (as Ameritech) had still another merger into Southwestern Bell
Telephone Company which then changed its name into SBC.

The rapid expansion of telephone service in those early years brought
with it the need for many skilled employees, especially operators.
Although the first operators were young men, it soon became apparent
that the subscribers preferred women in this role. Women soon became
the switchboard operators, and men handled installation and maintain-
ence. But around 1972, the companies began once again employing young
men as operators in Directory Assistance and elsewhere. Page 139 in
this book shows a young man at work in Directory Assistance in Dayton,

Caughlin and his associates picked through nearly one hundred thousand
pictures in their archives and present several hundred of them in this
fascinating book along with some text to place all the pictures in
context. The book is broken into several parts, covering these periods
of time:

1876-1899 1900-1939 1940-1969 1970-1999 and in addition a section
is devoted to Ameritech's lineage. You may wish to order one or more
personal copies for your library.

The SBC Archives and History Center is pleased to offer the book
entitled, Snapshots in Time: A Photographic History of Ameritech.

This 192-page soft-cover book chronicles the evolution of
telecommunications in the SBC Midwest (former Ameritech) five-state
region through select historical images. It offers more than 225
captioned photos of switchboard operators, crews with their vehicles
and technicians testing central office equipment. The book begins
with an 1876 portrait of Alexander Graham Bell and ends in 1999, on
the eve of the SBC/Ameritech merger.

The cost for each book is $25.00, plus $4.95 for shipping.

To order, fill out the form below. If you have questions, please call
Bill Caughlin at (210) 524-6192. Or send him an e-mail at



Snapshots in Time: A Photographic History of Ameritech

NAME __________________________________________________

BUSINESS UNIT ________________________________________

ADDRESS _______________________________________________


CITY _________________________ STATE _____ ZIP __________

PHONE NUMBER (______)_________________________

I would like to order _______ copy(ies) each at $25.00, plus $4.95
shipping, for a total of _____________.

No cash, please. Make your check or money order payable to
SBC Services, Inc. and send it to:

SBC Archives and History Center
7990 IH-10 West
Floor 1
San Antonio, Texas 78230

[TELECOM Digest Editor's 1994 Note: This review will go in the Telecom
Archives section on history for future reference. You may wish to
visit the history section in the archives
and check out several interesting files there about the history of
the telephone, etc. I am in the process now of attempting to
establish an online museum of telephone history with pictures, etc.
I'll need readers help to do it however. PAT ]

Then, the next day, the author wrote with some corrections and
further comments which appeared in V23_#88

Re: Book Review Corrections, Comments (Bill Caughlin)

From: William D. Caughlin <>
Subject: Author's Feedback on Book Review
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2004 11:13:49 -0600

Dear Patrick:

Many thanks for your splendid review. It should spur a lot of
interest in the book published in September 1999. We had already
received five prior orders because of your earlier mass e-mail.

I have two minor quibbles, though, about your review: (1) the book's
primary title is 'Snapshots in Time,' while the subtitle is 'A
Photographic History of Ameritech;' and (2) the official name of
Ameritech between 1983 and 1991 was American Information Technologies
Corporation. There was no "Inc." in it.

Ameritech Corporation (the official name beginning in 1991) merged in
October 1999 with SBC Communications Inc. (the holding company
formerly known until 1995 as Southwestern Bell Corporation, or simply
SBC). Southwestern Bell Telephone Company was just one of the many
subsidiaries of parent SBC. Today, the former is called SBC

As part of the process to create a unified national brand, in December
2002, Ameritech became known as SBC Midwest and the former Illinois
Bell (a.k.a. Ameritech Illinois) was rebranded as SBC Illinois. At
the same time, the holding company Pacific Telesis Group (acquired by
SBC in April 1997) became SBC West. And later, Southern New England
Telecommunications Corporation (acquired in October 1998), parent of
SNET, was simply renamed SBC East in January 2004. In fact, the
former Bell Operating Companies in the 13 SBC states are now doing
business as: SBC California, SBC Connecticut, SBC Indiana, SBC
Missouri, SBC Texas, and so on. Ours is a very complicated industry,
and so all the mergers and name changes tend to make things unclear.

Finally, I was the manager of the *former* Ameritech Corporate
Archives. That entity moved in June 2002 from Chicago to San Antonio,
and is but one collection (out of five) in the present SBC Archives
and History Center.

Thank you again for sharing my book with your readers. I hope they
will like it as much as you.

Regarding our archival photos, we have digitized about 250 images (out
of 200,000), which are currently mounted on the SBC Archives and
History Center Intranet website, launched in December. Pending legal
approval, we hope to make the site accessible to SBC retirees through
the retiree portal. But reproduction of individual photos outside SBC
requires license agreements approved by the Legal Dept. SBC doesn't
want its copyrighted photos ending up in uncontrolled ventures without
its permission.

William D. Caughlin
Corporate Archivist
SBC Archives and History Center
7990 IH-10 West, Floor 1
San Antonio, Texas 78230
Tel: (210) 524-6192
Fax: (210) 321-5577

======= (End of 1994 notes) ======

So, readers, if you missed this review in the Digest a year ago and
would be interested in a fascinating pictorial history of Illinois
Bell, use the coupon above to order your copy for $25.00 from the
SBC Archives, and Mr. Caughlin's office. And thank _you_, Mr. Coffey
for the reminder to tell new readers of this Digest about it once
again. PAT]

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