From the Telecoms Archive: A Continent is Bridged

Network Voice

By Jayne MillerMar 3, 2017


“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.


Appreciating the Geography of Communication

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