Read more about The Museum of
Communications in Seattle in our Virtual Museum Partners
For more about the equipment
described in this exhibit, see the Science of Phones
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Photos/Group Crew Photos
We take great effort to gather photographs and identify them. From time to time, Pacific Northwest Bell photographed its employees. We have been lucky to receive so many crew pictures that we developed a database to match names to faces. If you or someone you know once worked for PNB, please ask to view the database records
and the associated photographs.
AT&T Computer and Unix OS
AT&T offered a line of personal computers utilizing the UNIX operating system.
The Olympic Torch / Dress the Lady
This torch was once carried in celebration of the XXIII Olympiad (Olympic Games), held in Los Angeles in 1984.
This US flag once flew over the United States Capitol building in celebration of the Telephone Pioneers of America
The “Vail Awards” for noteworthy service were presented to Bell System employees in recognition of heroic efforts above and beyond the call of duty. Here we have several Vail Awards on display:
- John “JR” Wells Jr., Seattle, Washington, 1995
- Thomas J Burns, Detroit, Michigan, 1982
- Walter W Straley, Dunganess Bay, Washington, 1965
- Gorman D Colling, Tillamook, Oregon, 1964
- Donald L Potts & William H Sage, Spokane, Washington, 1959
- Frieda M Allen, Stites, Idaho, 1948
In addition to the awards displayed here, we have one of the first Vail Awards ever presented. The honoree was Frank Hopkins and the year was 1923. You can see this bronze medallion in the display case
near the entrance to this floor of the museum.
For more information on Theodore N. Vail, see our Heroes section
. For more about the Vail Medals, click here
Seattle Area Directories 1898-2004
A favorite stop for researchers and genealogists is our collection of Seattle telephone directories. Dating back to 1898, we have directories for each year except 1940. If you have a 1940 Seattle directory and would like to donate it, please let us know.
The Chapter Officers and era dated photos
Time will tell or time has told. The leaders of the Telephone Pioneers of America Chapter #30 are remembered in this photograph collection. Also on display are photographs in ten-year increments. They show the evolution of telephone service in this area.
The Pedestal Calculagraph
Billing of individual long distance telephone calls produced much of the revenue for the Bell System. The device shown here is a pedestal mounted Calculagraph. It’s a spring-wound clock that prints the time on a paper ticket.
The Calculagraph was invented in the 1890s and originally was used in billiard parlors to rent table time. Calculagraphs were quickly adopted by the telephone company since they made it easier to time long-distance telephone calls. Smaller Calculagraphs were installed on long-distance switchboards to keep track of long-distance calls. Early ones were spring wound. Later ones were electrically driven.
The operator would enter on the ticket the calling number and the number the customer wanted to call. The operator would then establish a connection to the called number. To accurately track the call’s duration, the operator would start a billing ticket. The longer the distance called, the greater the number of switchboards and switchboard operators required to complete the call. When the called number answered, the originating operator would stamp the time of answer using the Calculagraph. When the call was completed, the operator would stamp the disconnect time. These tickets would then be sent to the billing office.
This is the end of the tour (if you've been following along in page order). Use the following links to jump to rooms in this exhibit. Hover over the links for short descriptions of each page.
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