BT Archives

Events in Telecommunications History

1958

The Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) service, whereby telephone callers are able to make trunk calls automatically without the aid of the operator, was introduced into the United Kingdom by the Queen dialling a call on 5 December from Bristol Central Telephone Exchange to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, over 300 miles away - the greatest distance over which a subscriber trunk call could be made at the time. Afterwards, the Queen operated a switch which put 18,000 telephones connected to Bristol Central onto the new system.

Before STD, Bristol subscribers could dial direct to 2,600 stations connected to 41 local exchanges outside the city. Afterwards they could dial calls to 427 exchanges, including most of those in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. Before STD could be introduced, however, telephone charges, designed for manual operation, had to be simplified. Only then could full automation follow. The introduction of Group Charging Areas reduced as well as simplified the cost of most trunk calls. For instance, the call made by the Queen to Edinburgh lasted 2 minutes 5 seconds and cost 10d (4p); under the old charging system the call would have cost 3s 9d (19p).

The first automatic telex exchanges were opened at Shoreditch in London and at Leeds.

The Teletourist Information Service was introduced in London; in English (24 hours) and in French and German (7 pm-11 pm).

Nineteen countries established the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administration (CEPT), expanding to 26 during its first 10 years. Another 17 countries from Eastern European joined these in 1992 so that CEPT henceforward covered almost the whole of Europe.

Original members were the former monopoly holding telecommunications administrations which handled operational and regulatory functions. Up until the early eighties the CEPT dealt mainly with administrative, technical and operational tasks, but sovereign and regulatory functions gradually grew in importance. From September 1992 the CEPT was a body of the newly established National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), and dealt exclusively with sovereign / regulatory matters. Operators established their own organisation called ETNO (European public Telecommunications Network Operators' association), based in Brussels, to deal with technical and operational tasks previously covered by CEPT.

The Post Office introduced Answering Machine No. 1; an answer only machine which gave out a 20 second message, played twice to ensure callers from payphones received the whole message. A second model,

Answering Machine No. 2, followed in 1963.

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