YESTERYEAR: Early Telephone System by Pat Sides

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In 1878, the first two telephones appeared in Evansville. One was located at the Western Union Telegraph office, and the other at the St. George Hotel. Within the year, the first exchange was installed downtown, with sixty subscribers paying five dollars a month for service.

Initially, few private residences took advantage of the telephone service, because many people felt the instruments were a fad that would soon pass. Switchboards were operated by young men until about 1896, when they were replaced by “telephone girls” because it was felt women could better offer a “voice with a smile.”

When the Indiana Bell Telephone Company assumed operation of the Evansville system in 1920, 12,000 telephones were in use.

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