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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/817

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799
A CENTURY OF THE TELEGRAPH IN FRANCE.

kilometres of line, 264,980 of wire; ordinary subterranean lines, 1,719 line, 15,168 of wire; long-distance subterranean, 4,524 line, 30,237 wire; submarine, 6,004 line; private lines, 3,293 line, 6,512 wire; railroad telegraphs, 12,588 line, 106,653 wire. At end of 1890 the overhead lines alone had in all France covered some 115,000 kilometres.

Telegraphic bureaus in France, about 9,000. They use 12,750 Morse instruments, 993 Hughes, 25 Wheatstone, 58 Baudot, 1,155 Cadran, 1 Meyer, 951 diverse; total, 15,932.

The poste central (as it is locally termed) and the telegraphic service of Paris has an exceptional importance, which is easily explained. Paris, head and heart of France, is, in effect, the center from whence all radiates and where all converges. It is at the central post of telegraphs of Paris (rue de Grenelle 103) where are managed all the telegraphic dispatches exchanged between Paris and the departments or abroad, as well as a great number of those which the different towns exchange between themselves. The poste central is exclusively a bureau of transmissions; no dispatch is disposed there directly, and it does not distribute any directly. The service is performed by about five hundred men and four hundred women. The approximate daily average of the number of telegrams expedited by the poste central is 36,250, and by all the bureaus of France 67,187.

One can conceive that a personal staff so numerous must be installed in some vast and specially furnished rooms. Two new halls have been constructed quite recently and opened for business. Their installation leaves something to be desired; the light penetrates there badly at night; they are illuminated by electricity. One of these halls is occupied by the men telegraphists, the other by the lady operators. The 362 apparati of diverse nature in service at the poste central are grouped in each one of these halls, following a methodical order based on the regional classification.

It is known that the apparati of the system Baudot are the most frequently used in telegraphy. They serve the cities of Marseilles, Havre, Lille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lyon, Brest, Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, and Nantes. They permit several employés to work at two, four, and even at six on the same wire, thanks to the ingenious application of the division of time realized by M. Baudot, engineer of the administration.

Two brigades share the service with the men, same as with the females, an alternating service which leaves them a little liberty. The employées (mark, the word with two final e's is feminine) while at work are all dressed in black blouses to preserve their dresses from the oil stains liable to result from close contact with the apparatus. They are allowed to do, when their post is free, a little work in crocheting or in tapestry.