The beginning of this narrative highlights items in four separate display cases. We have identified items of significant interest.

In the image to your left, note the Wonderphone. This was made by The Universal High-Powered Telephone Company and featured a large transmitter assembly designed to overcome losses in early telephone lines. Believe it or not, this very telephone was made just a few blocks from the Museum of Communications. The Universal High-Powered Telephone Company was located in Seattle, at Carleton and Eddy Streets. It made telephone equipment from 1913 until 1935.

The telephone is so much a part of daily life that we hardly think about how to use it. We listen for the dial tone and then we dial. But before dial telephones were common in the 1920s, all calls were connected at the telephone office by operators, even for local calls. When you lifted the telephone receiver off the switchhook and put the receiver to your ear, you would hear the operator ask “number please.” (See our Science of Phones--How Phones Work article for more about early phones.)

Operators were once a large percentage of the telephone work force. Good attendance was a requirement. The attendance awards you see here were presented to employees with outstanding attendance records. (See the next page for more about operators.)


Click here to move to the next page of this exhibit, or use the following links to jump to rooms in this exhibit. Hover over the links for short descriptions of each page.

Main, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17




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PICTURED: (above, beginning of article) The display cases contain a large and diverse collection of memorabilia. Click this and other images for a larger picture.
PICTURED: (above, left) The telephone pictured here is a Wonderphone. This instrument was purchased from the daughter of the founder of the Universal High Powered Telephone Company.
PICTURED: (above, right) Attendance awards.