Thread Number: 70425  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
The Life of a Telephone Operator in 1969
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Post# 933460   4/20/2017 at 00:03 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

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This is a video created by AT&T in 1969.   Technology has totally changed the human interaction that was so common place in years past. 


Loved the cordboard.




Post# 933464 , Reply# 1   4/20/2017 at 00:55 by funktionalart (Phoenix, AZ)        

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Loved seeing that! My mom was an operator for PacBell back in circa 1964-5. No young person today would have the patience or composure required to do this job if it still existed...

Post# 933469 , Reply# 2   4/20/2017 at 02:50 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        
Those switchboards would have to really expand!

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--That, and with more phones out there, I think you would need another pair of hands, plus how would this work with non-land line phones?

-- Dave

Post# 933478 , Reply# 3   4/20/2017 at 05:19 by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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That was amazing. True Customer service.

I forgot all about that. : )

Post# 933594 , Reply# 4   4/20/2017 at 19:39 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

My mom worked as an operator for Southern Bell (now BellSouth) in 1944 & 1945. This was in Hattiesburg, MS, and she worked both the local and long distance boards. I remember her saying that even though all calls went through an operator, that her L.D. switchboard had a dial on it. This was used to dial calls to certain areas.

She went back to work for Bell in Hattiesburg in the early 50's when my dad was away for the Korean War. However, this time she was not an operator, but rather worked in an office for Western Electric. They were installing a new phone system there that was one of the first areas to have "intertoll" dialing, where customers could dial local and many long distance calls.

I kept in touch with one of her former co-workers she knew from the 40's until the lady passed away last October. Marguerite was 92, and lived about 30 miles from here.

Post# 933597 , Reply# 5   4/20/2017 at 19:47 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

There is some interesting stuff in YouTube about the operations of the Bell System, including a detailed film on long distance dialing for the operator.

Post# 933600 , Reply# 6   4/20/2017 at 20:20 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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My mother was an operator for MA Bell in the 40's. Money was good thru her Union, stress was not good, she said. I came along in '54 and she was adamant I never work for the phone company ever. But I got a very nice job with Verizon, it swapped to Fairpoint, then the layoffs happened and last in, first out, thanks union dues for not doing anything to help me.

Post# 933603 , Reply# 7   4/20/2017 at 21:03 by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

I think Allen is exactly right. The public is a different critter now.

When I grew up there wasn't anything for us other than Southern Bell Telephone.
There was NEVER a problem with our phone service either at home or at the "office" that I ever knew of.

After de-regulation, it all fell apart. Cellphones don't even come close to the service level we got from Bell Telephone. I always thought the Operators were awesome!

Post# 933604 , Reply# 8   4/20/2017 at 21:24 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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if all operators were like this....

Post# 933632 , Reply# 9   4/20/2017 at 23:54 by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

Is my favorite!

Post# 933646 , Reply# 10   4/21/2017 at 05:01 by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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I explained the process of using telephone operators to make long distance calls to my nephew's kids (6th grade) and he looked at me like I was from the stone age, LOL.

Today's system is faster and more convenient, but, as with nearly everything else, you rarely have contact with an actual human being on the other end of the line.

I don't have a home phone anymore, but can you even get an operator if you press '0'? And remember when you could call 411 (I think that was the number) and get Information service to find a phone number?

Post# 933648 , Reply# 11   4/21/2017 at 06:06 by washman (Butler, PA)        

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Hi Frig!

Post# 933696 , Reply# 12   4/21/2017 at 11:30 by Davey7 (Chicago)        

My mom's great-aunts or second cousins (can't remember which, I think cousins is right) were the operators in a small town in east central Nebraska. The switchboard was in their living room. This would have been in the 30's-50's period. I think the last time my mom visited them would've been in the late fifties and they were close to retirement.

Post# 933710 , Reply# 13   4/21/2017 at 12:48 by joeekaitis (Rialto, California, USA)        
"The switchboard was in their living room. "

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In some small towns, it was in the operator's bedroom for 24-hour availability.

And everyone's acting like work-from-home is a recent invention. Oy. :)

Post# 933714 , Reply# 14   4/21/2017 at 13:24 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Interesting! I never experienced an operator. The Netherlands was the second country in the world after Switzerland that had fully automated telephone traffic. That was in 1962.

Post# 933716 , Reply# 15   4/21/2017 at 13:31 by Iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        

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Locally our phone system was automated by the time I came along in the 60s, but I do remember my mother making a long distance call to my grandmother in Missouri.  It would have to go through several operators before the connection was  finally made, and it was expensive in comparison to todays unlimited rates.






Post# 933743 , Reply# 16   4/21/2017 at 16:34 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I did have to dial the "0" Operator a year or so ago when I was having a problem with my phone service. Local calls to certain areas weren't going through or were getting cut off, so I had to ask the operator to complete the call. I live in an area served by Frontier, which used to be Verizon, and GTE before that. Where I live is just over the border from the Cincinnati Bell area.

Post# 933752 , Reply# 17   4/21/2017 at 17:13 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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We got direct dial service in 1966. My older sister, who was in 7th grade at the time, has mentioned how there was a lecture in the school auditorium on how to use the new direct dial phones.

Post# 933755 , Reply# 18   4/21/2017 at 17:33 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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My, my how things have changed in such a short time. Well seems short to me anyway.

Post# 933759 , Reply# 19   4/21/2017 at 18:20 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I still have 4 of those rotary phones. Green and a black desk model as just shown, brown trimline and white wall. Plus an orange trimline touchtone. The green desk and orange trimline are hooked up and work fine if the power goes out, plus their bells can wake the dead. Perks from working at the phone company that no one wanted.

Post# 933800 , Reply# 20   4/21/2017 at 23:07 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

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Loved the and watched all of them.   Thank you.   My first job at 15 was as a PBX / switchboard operator at a very large hospital in Atlanta.   This was a cordboard very much like the boards depicted in the Central Offices.    I still remember the extensions for the Emergency Room, Heart Cauterization, Surgical Intensive Care..etc...


We switched from a cordboard in 1983 to an electronic board (Dimension PABX) and I left shortly there after.    Our office was run as though it were a central office of a telephone exchange.   I learned customer service, customer expectations and telephone protocol at this position ( I lied about my age )......I loved this job and as mentioned above, I still remember the board set up.   I would bet I could go back in time and if offered, could work this switchboard like it were yesterday.  


One of the reasons we kept a cordboard was the PABX or electronic boards could not provide the various resources and services that our 608 cordboard provided.    


I know that someone mentioned how could older services and equipment provide the services that our cordboard provided?   There were may physicians and other professionals whom had mobile phones.  We provided the most efficient and complete services available at the time and I suffice to say we most likely provided more efficient and complete service than is available today.  


It was until 2005 that most cordboards were taken out of service.   From what I understand, there are cordboards still in use.    They NEVER fail.    Unless a direct lightening hit or some other irregular occurrence,   the telephone service was never interrupted......


Again, the human intervention is so lost now a days.....sadly.   Companies and ententes whom are valuing and embracing the "human" element are going to  continue to thrive.....


The link I provided shows exactly the switchboard on which I learned/operated.   There were six other positions or boards connected where there were other operators working.   This happens to be a photo of the type of board which which I am familiar.  It was the last of the cordboards that was manufactured and had many " modern" features.    




Post# 933844 , Reply# 21   4/22/2017 at 05:45 by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

I had a friend who lived over in Decatur in the mid-60's and his parents still were on a "party line". We used to pick-up the phone and listen in on all the nonsense. Sometimes the chatterboxs would hear us click in and get huffy with us.One lady could always be counted on for her "well, ah deeeclaaah's" she would say that constantly while the other hen rattled on about her drama. We would just tee-hee-hee and hang-up.

Hard to imagine party lines lasting so long. I remember when you didn't have to go too far out of Atlanta into the countryside and you could find places with those old crank-box phones on the wall. You had to crank them a certain number of times to get the "exchange" you wanted, THEN ask an Operater to be connected to a number! Seems so primitive by today's standards.

My parents business phone started with the word TRinity for a number beginning with 87.
That galled my parents to no end!

Post# 934026 , Reply# 22   4/23/2017 at 10:15 by polkanut (Wausau, WI )        

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Our phone exchange here in Wausau was/is VIking for a number beginning with 84.  Our landline is still a part of the old exchange. 

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