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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/234

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

clearing-out drops or other improvements that facilitate rapid service on the part of the operator, it was considered a remarkable piece of workmanship in its day, and prospective investors in telephone systems traveled from various states to inspect Mr. Coy's equipment and to study the working method of this first of all telephone exchanges. The switchboard used in the Meriden exchange, opened a few days after the New Haven exchange, is now preserved in the Smithsonian Institution at Washington. It is similar in type to the New Haven board, and was designed by Mr. Coy. The switchboard used in Richmond, Va., as late as April, 1879, had six dials on its face, 'each circle about ten inches in diameter, formed by thirty-nine numbers.'

Service from Mr. Coy's board was supplied after the following fashion. On the shelf was a large induction coil with a manually operated buzzing attachment (Fig. 7). This calling device was known

PSM V70 D234 Induction coil with manually operated buzzer.png

Fig. 7.

as 'Watson's squealer' and also as 'Coy's chicken,' for the shrill squeal it sent out over the line could be easily heard in all parts of a large room. When 'Central' desired to call a given subscriber on a party line, as No. 5, for instance, on party-line No. 8, the operator connected this buzz-box to line No. 8 and sent five long squeals over the line, which would be the signal for subscriber No. 5 to come in on the line, and for the others to stay out.

For the use of his subscribers in New Haven, Mr. Coy hung the mahogany or rubber-encased hand telephone on a steel hook screwed into a black walnut board (Fig. 8) which he attached to the wall of the subscriber's room or office. Binding posts for wire connections were fastened to each corner of this board, with a simple strip type of lightning arrester connecting the upper two posts, line and ground. Near the center of this board and bridged on to the grounded iron telephone circuit, was a circuit-break push button for the subscriber to use in calling 'Central.' Below the push button was inscribed the number of the telephone.

Primitive as this outfit now appears, it was considered a luxury in 1878 that many were glad to have, and practically constituted the