Operator, could you help me place this call?

Staff of Biddeford Telephone Exchange, ca. 1900

It was on this day in 1878 that Alexander Graham Bell recruited the first female telephone operator to the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company.

Since then, telephones, and the processes they operate by, have sure come a long way.

For a look back in time, enjoy these priceless images of phone operators, early telephones, and switchboards on Maine Memory.

We bring you these images, in part, thanks to Ellsworth’s Telephone Museum. Yes, that’s right. There’s a museum about the telephone in Ellsworth, Maine. (You learn something fascinatingly new every day, right?)

Telephone System Model, 1912

Its mission is to “demonstrate the social and technical significance of the telephone network from 1876 to the present, using working equipment to provide tangible, operable evidence of an evolving technology.”

Fortunately, the exhibits stick to how 20th century technology evolved, and don’t even begin to entertain the way today’s phones have morphed into all-in-one communication devices. Why bother? You can catch an exhibit of that any day of the week at your local cell phone provider retail store.

For more about the history of the telephone, enjoy this comprehensive summary from the good people at… AT&T.

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