100 years ago today the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (now AT&T) conducted the first transcontinental telephone call between New York City, San Francisco, Jekyll Island, Georgia and Washington, DC. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone and co-founder of AT&T, initiated the historic call with a group of dignitaries in New York. His one-time assistant Thomas Watson received the call in San Francisco, AT&T President Theodore Vail participated from Jekyll Island, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson spoke from the White House.
The call was the culmination of a decades of labor, the installation of 130,000 telephone poles and 2,500 tons of copper wire, and a key innovation known as the vacuum tube amplifier that made it possible to extend the New York-Denver circuit to San Francisco.
Earlier this week AT&T and the California Historical Society unveiled the four original telephones used to make this historic call. The phones will be on display as part of the exhibition City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair, opening on February 22nd. Read more about this important event on the AT&T Innovation blog.