DEVELOPMENT IN TELEPHONE SERVICE
necessarily temporary character of much of the construction. The public had to be personally taught to use the new system, and our operators had to be educated in its rapid use. This naturally caused dissatisfaction, and before the system was tried and the construction trouble was eliminated, our subscribers, through misapprehension of the real purpose of the change, were invited to meet and form an association to protect their interests and compel satisfactory and perfect service on our part. . . . The association was soon compelled to acknowledge the superiority of the new service over that of the old.
In March, 1883, there were thirty Gilliland switchboards (Fig. 21) in the Pearl Street telephone exchange in Boston, and seventy-five toll lines terminated there. These boards stood about a foot apart and were displaced by a given number of multiple sections forming one compact, continuous board. In referring to the installation of the multiple switchboard in this exchange in 1884, Mr. Carty stated that
there were about 1,650 subscribers, ninety branch and thirty extra-territorial lines. The extra-territorial lines were handled by five operators on the 25-wire boards, on each of which there were a dozen or more subscribers. This called for a force of thirty-nine operators on tables at any one time, seven operators for relief and seven night operators, making a total force of fiftythree. With the multiple system only twenty operators are required to fill the boards in the main exchange, with five relief and four night operators. In the toll room, eleven operators are required, including the chief, one relief and two night operators. This makes a total of forty operators, handling 1,700 subscribers, 152 trunk lines, and shows a saving of thirteen operators.
Incidentally, it may be added that the Boston board was put in at an expense of $48,000. The old boards cost over $20,000, but brought less than one tenth that sum when sold as junk, though in use less than four years, and some less than two years.
In September, 1885, Mr. T. D. Lockwood suggested that where the multiple board was to be installed it would be well
to get the numbers drilled into the subscribers first. I was in Baltimore eighteen months ago, when the subscribers were all known by name. They were going to change that, and they were also introducing the multiple boards at the same time; and the operation of the new multiple boards was somewhat premature, because the old boards fell to pieces about a week before the new ones were expected and the change had to be made very quickly, and the change from names to numbers, and from the old board to the multiple board resulted in producing a condition of things very like a pandemonium for three or four days.
That the Western Union's competitive telephone service was of no better character than that of the Bell, notwithstanding its long experience in serving the public and the far greater resources at its command, is clearly portrayed in a description by a Times reporter, of a visit to the Chicago exchange of the American District Telegraph Company, in July, 1879. He wrote:
The racket is almost deafening. There are speaking tubes running all about the room, which look not unlike small stovepipes, and at one end and the other of these are placed the lips of one operator and the ear of another. Boys and girls are rushing madly hither and thither, seemingly without intent or direction; while others are putting in and taking out pegs from the metallic surface of the central framework or switchboard as if they were lunatics engaged in an old-fashioned game of fox and geese.
How different are present-day conditions in the large exchanges, where the operating force is well disciplined and thoroughly trained,