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Events in telecommunications history


Almon B Strowger (1839-1902), a funeral parlour proprietor of Kansas City, filed a US patent for an automatic telephone system on 12 March, and his patent was issued in May 1891. He had discovered (so the story goes) that his local telephone operator was married to another undertaker to whom she diverted Strowger's calls. Strowger's experiments involved the use of brass collar studs and matches, but the Strowger switching system proved extremely popular and in 1922 was adopted as the standard for all automatic telephone exchanges in the UK. This electro-mechanical technology persisted for over seventy years from 1922. The network of over 6,700 telephone exchanges, which BT inherited on its privatisation in 1984, included many using Strowger based technology. These were gradually replaced by digital or modern electronic exchanges during a £20 billion investment in the UK's phone network by BT, culminating in the closure of the last working Strowger electro-mechanical exchange at Crawford, Scotland on 23 June, 1995.

The United, the National, and the Lancashire and Cheshire Telephone Companies amalgamated on 1 May to form the National Telephone Company with a capital of £4,000,000 and providing 23,585 lines. The new company proceeded to buy up smaller concerns, Northern District Company (1,551 lines) in April 1890, South of England Telephone Company (3,255 lines) in October 1890, Western Counties and South Wales Company (4,027 lines) in January 1892.

The Post Office acquired the Submarine Telegraph Company's Anglo- Continental circuits at a cost of £67,163. The Post Office also acquired the company's 760 ton paddlesteamer, The Lady Carmichael, named after the wife of the company's chairman. The cableship was renamed the Alert in 1894 and remained in service until being scrapped in 1915.

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