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Events in telecommunications history

1896

A detailed agreement between the Postmaster-General and the National Telephone Company regarding the sale of the latter's trunk telephone lines was signed on 25 March. On 4 April, 29,000 miles of cable in 33 trunk lines were transferred to the Post Office at a cost to the State of £459,114.3s.7d. The transfer was completed by 6 February 1897. Under the terms of the agreement, intercommunication was established between exchange subscribers of the Post Office in one area and those of the National Telephone Company in another area. There was no such facility, however, for subscribers to the two systems in the same area, the company claiming that any other telephone concern with very few subscribers should not benefit from the company's system in the same area.

The Automatic Electric Company in America developed a rotary dial, the forerunner of the later dial which was common until recently.

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) called upon the Engineer-in-Chief of the Post Office in June to demonstrate his new system of 'telegraphy without wires' following a lack of interest from the Italian Government. Marconi with his mother had settled in London from his native Italy the previous year. Marconi gave the first demonstration of his new system of wireless telegraphy before members of the Post Office administration on 27 July of this year. With the transmitter on the roof of the CTO and the receiver on the roof of GPO South in Carter Lane 300 yards away, signals from the transmitter were satisfactorily recorded. This event is recorded by a plaque on the outside of the current BT Centre near the main entrance.

In August, the Post Office permitted Marconi to experiment with wireless apparatus on Salisbury plain and other places, and gave financial backing.

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