TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Old Chicago Numbering

Re: Old Chicago Numbering
31 Oct 2005 09:33:39 -0800 wrote:

> "Very seldom"? How about Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Tulsa,
> Oklahoma City and, of course, much of the Los Angeles area.
> Undoubtedly true of many other places as well..

I think in the days when they planned C.O. offices, those cities _and_
associated metropolitan area were fairly small and not expected to
grow too much over the years. L.A. was a special case. The cities
you mention were all in the south and until air conditioning was
widespread and oil became scarce in the 1950s, there wasn't too much
growth expected for them.

In contrast, the 'traditional' big cities were growing rapidly--new
commerce and industry, and many immigrants streaming in.

> All those had been completely converted to dial by the early 1930s,
> perhaps in the 1920s. The first dial office in Oklahoma City was cut
> over in early 1921 (using Automatic Electric SxS equipment; Bell Labs
> and W.E. had not yet recognized there was a need for such equipment.

IIRC from the Bell Labs history, the Bell System by 1921 did recognize
the need for automated switching. Actually, it was first preferred
for isolated areas to save the cost of a 24/7 operator. Switch
machines were very expensive and had full capacity whether actually
used on not. Human operators only worked when needed.

Labor shortages and expense of humans (lunch rooms, matrons) caused
the Bell System to rethink its policy.

Conversion from manual to dial was by no means an indicator of how
"busy" an exchange was. There were other factors as well. As
mentioned in another post, it was practical for Bell to have manual
pay telephones in some resorts into the 1970s. Plenty of busy small
towns had manual as late as 1962, probably requiring a huge
switchboard. In thinking about two towns I know of, I realize they
might have been busy during the day, but virtually empty overnight.

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