Telephones & Telephony playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL291BE0923F33CEB1
more at http://phones.quickfound.net/
Instructional film for telephone operators. Produced for AT&T by Audio Productions.
Reupload of a previously uploaded film with improved video & sound.
Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
- The New York Times, June 11, 1899, p.IMS10:
- HELLO! THE TELEPHONE GIRL.
- The average man might do much worse than court a telephone girl of New York. This is an opinion carefully formed after a study of the various exchanges, after several sessions of listening in by the side of on and another in active service, after chats here and there with chief operators.
- For the Miss behind the telephone, whose voice is most frequently heard in the query, "What number, please?"--she is, as a rule, a slip of a girl, barely twenty oftentimes--is a very capable young person, indeed. The writer feels inclined to put her at the head of New York's army of working girls, for her brisk intelligence, her gentle ways, and the deft way she uses her small hands...
- An exchange presents an interesting sight. About three sides of the great room, reaching very nearly to the ceiling, set in a structure that reminds one of an inner shell or wall, is a switchboard, with its projecting ledge. Along it, as closely as comfort will allow, are girls, and yet more girls. In a never-broken line they stretch on, over a hundred at a time, in an exchange like Cortlandt, girls tall and short, full-fledged women and round-faced lassies just out of the schoolroom, girls of dainty face and contour, and girls whom fate has dealt less kindly with, girls half-shabby and girls of pretty costume with wonderful little aprons about their waists. Nothing more or less than a concourse of youthful femininity that interests because of the marked diversity of the types shown...
- If it were permitted to chat with subscribers, to gossip with each other, the telephone girls would have no time. It is nothing unusual for an expert operator to answer 125 calls an hour. She may even answer 150, or two and a half a minute. On the trunk lines, where the process is simpler and where exchanges are joined (a man on Broad wanting to speak to a man on Thirty-eighth Street, for example,) as many as 600 connections are often made in an hour.
- Sometimes for five full minutes it is a mad race with the girl at the case to attend to all the demands made upon her. Perhaps, at certain hours of the day, things may calm down, and her hands, for a moment or two, lie idly in her lap. But even then she must be on the que vive for new calls, her eyes on the lookout.
- Contrary to the belief of the public, a bell does not warn the telephone girl when the customer rings up "central." A little metal disk falls, displaying the subscriber's number, and that only, with no sound, with hardly a stir...
- One of the disks of a drop falls, and the number is displayed. Quick as thought the girl takes up a plug (which itself fits in a hole, its long cord falling even below the floor,) and sticks it sharply in the hole whose number corresponds with the number on the disk. At the same instant she has thrown the little lever on a line with the plug's hole, and is already asking "What number, please?"
- If the number that comes to her ears is of the same exchange what remains to be done is simple. The plugs spoken of go in pairs. She has only to pull out its mate, and push it in the proper hole. Then throwing another cam she presses the corresponding ringing button. That rings the bell for the party called. She listens sharply for an instant, then announcing "All right. Go ahead."
- Her swiftly flying fingers are already busy with another call. One of her subscribers has called for a number on another exchange. She has the plug for his wire already in place, of course, but a more complicated connection is now to be made.
- She presses a calling circuit button on the ledge. This brings to her aid another operator, a girl at the Trunk Line switchboard, of the distant exchange. "1029 Broad," she remarks quietly through her transmitter. More quickly than the word can be written a number comes back, 10. This is the number of the hole in her switchboard in to which her second plug must go to get the Broad Street connection. The plug is slipped in, the cam thrown, the ringing button pressed...
- That is telephoning, from the telephone girl's point of view....