Long Distance, Please! Coast-to-Coast Calling is 102 Years Old

By Jeremy Del Nero on 25 January 2017
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Today we take long-distance calling for granted and, unlike what our parents and grandparents had to do, don’t wait for the rates to go down in the evening and after 11 p.m. because the calls cost almost the same regardless of distance.

We now pause for a moment to recall the first transcontinental phone call, which took place one hundred and two years ago today, on January 25, 1915.

The historic call was actually a four-way conference call. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was in New York, Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T was in Jekyll Island, Georgia, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was in the White House. Together they called Bell’s assistant Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

Echoing the first-ever telephone call, which took place in Bell’s home-based laboratory, in which he said, “Mr. Watson. Come here. I want you,” to his assistant in a nearby room, Watson, who was 3,400 miles (5,471 kilometers) away, replied, “It will take me five days to get there now.”

The call was timed to mark the opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a world’s fair held in San Francisco starting that February, as well as to call attention to the city’s rebirth following the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires that devastated most of the city.

Later that year, the first-ever voice call across the Atlantic Ocean was made by radiotelephone from Arlington, Virginia to Paris, France. Regular transatlantic telephone service, however, was first established in 1927.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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