“I talked with one of your engineers nearly 20 years ago. He said something about waves. Said you needed something that would make the long-distance wires talk farther.”
That’s how our conversation begins between two men, one of them an engineer, in this 1940 film that looks back on AT&T’s first transcontinental phone line.
Here’s what our characters are talking about: telephone repeaters.
As the film’s engineer explains, telephone repeaters introduce new energy to a telephone line to restore the electrical current, when weakened. But the team has encountered a catch: using multiple repeaters on a line causes distortion in sound quality. (This was a genuine problem to solve for those engineering transcontinental phone lines.)
So what’s an engineer to do? Give this film from the archives above a click to find out. You'll also get a brief history lesson on the events leading up to the first transcontinental telephone call made from 15 Dey Street in New York City on January 25, 1915.