I came across a 50 y/o article describing the Bell System's "Farm Interphone". Would anyone have had any exposure to it or farm telephones?
It is described as:
- A main station telephone usually located in the farmhouse; accompanying it is a master station loudspeaker-microphone for intercom and monitoring.
- Extension telephones for barn or outbuilding; a speaker-microphone mounted nearby permits hands-free answering.
- A longrange two-way loudspeaker for outdoor use.
The core essence seems to be a network of two-way loudspeakers and speakerphones so that workers in the field could communicate with the farmhouse with more convenience.
It appears that someone in the field could not initiate or answer a telephone call; that function still had to be handled at the base station in the farmhouse. However, an incoming call could be "connected" out to the field via the loudspeaker, and the field person responding relatively easily.
By today's wireless standards the system is obviously obsolete, but in the early 1960s it would seem to offer considerable productivity. The two-way loudspeakers, allowing handsfree conversation, seem to be a major asset.
I have no idea what the system cost or how popular it was. I don't know if the Independent Companies, which served many rural areas, offered any equivalent service.
The Bell System also offered a Home Interphone, a home intercom, but I don't think that ever achieved much popularity. I remember in the1970s it was popular for builders of suburban houses to include an intercom system; but I also recall that after the novelty wore off, the systems weren't used and eventually stopped working. (I knew a few affluent suburbanites who had key systems in their homes--multiple lines, an intercom, and a number of extensions throughout the large house; this was costly in the day when every extension was rented). [public replies, please]