I saw an interesting picture of a central office cord switchboard,
taken about 1950 or later. The board was somewhat circular, wrapping
around the edges of the room.
The picture was in a community history book (Ambler, PA), part of
Arcadia Publishing series.
The operators seemed to be younger women, perhaps high school girls.
They were using the modern Type 52 series headsets. Judging by the
jackstrips, I think this was a manual exchange.
My guess this was a manual office about to upgraded to dial. It was
overcrowded due to postwar suburban growth. I suspect the curving
board was done to fit more positions a rather constrained space. When
the Bell System planned to convert an office to dial, it froze hiring
and filled vacancies with temps (such as high school girls) so that
permanent employees wouldn't get laid off.
In some Bell System publications of that era, they had office workers
in trailers, truck backs, or other oddball spaces to fill the need
until permanent quarters could be built. Some new communities had
long waits to get service. In the big development at Levittown PA,
residents had to make do with tempoary corner pay phones until a new
Levittown central office could be built (and cables run from the homes
to the office, telephone sets manufactured, and a new jumbo crossbar
switch manufactured) to handle 17,000 residential lines plus new
Any stories about services in the postwar era would be welcome.
The address for email submissions has changed: if you submit posts via email,
send them to
telecomdigestmoderator atsign telecom-digest.org.
If you submit posts via a newsreader or Google groups, you don't need to change
14 years ago