Las Vegas poised for new dial phone system (1957)

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Las Vegas poised for dial phone system

Complex equipment operates new telephone dial system

Customers start job when placing calls

The electrical brain which will be completing your calls when you start using the dial telephone tomorrow is described by Eugene Akin, Service Foreman of the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company plant, as one of the most complex machines ever designed for general use.

“You see, the equipment here is actually operated entirely by our customers whenever they dial a number. It sets up connections between any two telephones – a total of about 18 million possible connections. It rings distant telephones and rings back to the calling party what it is doing — ringing a telephone, encountering a ‘busy’ or ‘no such number.’

“It is housed in a room with neat rows of equipment extending from floor to ceiling. The heart of the equipment is the dial switch. There are thousands of them an hundreds of other pieces of equipment all connected together by thousands and thousands of tiny insulated wires with groups neatly soldered to each piece of equipment.

“The dial switches are of several different types, each doing different jobs. One type is to search, by means of electrical fingers, for your telephone line, when you lift the receiver,” says Akin.

“As soon as it finds the right line it attaches itself and sends out the hum-m-m which it the machines’ way of saying ‘Number, please.’ As you call, letting the dial rotate back to its original position, there is a click for each unit of the number dialed — three clicks for a 3, four clicks for a 4, etc.

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“With each click, a pulse of current passed through some electromagnet and in turn a dial switch mechanism jumps three steps or four, corresponding to the number dialed, and electrical fingers made a connection to another piece of equipment. The series of dial pulses causes a train of five dial switches to be connected together establishing a path through the equipment to the line of the called telephone. All told, as many as 1,100 separate electrical contacts are made or tested in completing a single call through the dial mechanism.

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“The power to ring the distant telephone, the dial tone, busy tone and other service signals, are all produced by a ringing machine in the basement and introduced into the telephone line at the proper time by the dial mechanism.”

One minute needed on dial conversion

At the stroke of 12, Saturday night, the telephone system in Las Vegas will be converted from its present manual to dial operation. Within about one minute, telephone cables will be cut, switches will be placed in operation, and the entire new Telephone Building will become alive as Las Vegas residents test the new equipment.

This will be the culminating moment toward which many months of planning and nearly $1-1/2 million have been spent to accomplish, inaugurating a dial system is not like buying an automobile off the dealers floor. It is more like designing, and then building an automobile for a particular customer. It is a long, tedious and expensive operation.

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JD Richardson, Manager of The Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Co here said that the decision to convert to dial operation in Las Vegas was made several years ago, and although it was postponed temporarily, the final decision was made in 1954. At that time, engineers began making plans for the kind of building that was needed, the size of the building, the kind and amount of equipment, the number of switchboard positions that would be needed, as well as many other phases.

After this, the equipment was ordered and manufactured by the Western Electric Company. Meantime the building was started in January of 1957, and when it was completed in July, the equipment which had been ordered was ready to be installed.

Since then, as many as 60 highly skilled Western Electric installers worked around the clock to get the equipment in readiness for the cutover Saturday night. Each subscriber’s telephone has been tested to assure that it is in perfect operating condition, and most subscribers in town have been contacted personally, and shown how to dial a number properly.

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At the present time, there are really two telephone systems in Las Vegas, but only the manual system is working. At midnight Saturday, and in logical and rapid-fire sequence, workmen who have been installing and testing the equipment, as well as officials of The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co will render the manual service inoperative by cutting the cables now connecting the telephones to the old switchboard and a fraction of a second thereafter, will remove the insulating material which now keeps the dial equipment from operating. And thus, in a matter of a minute or perhaps a little longer, Las Vegas will begin using the most modern telephone system in the world.

“This is a great moment for we in the telephone business, and for the City of Las Vegas. It is something we have been wanting, and the city has been needing, for quite sometime. While dialing is not difficult, it does require some concentration, but after everyone gets accustomed to it. I am sure they will find a great deal of pleasure in calling their friends direct,” Richardson said.

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