Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico Territory
Started: 1895
Sold to/Ended: Purchased by the Colorado Telephone Co., 1906

History:
This company brought one of the earliest working dial systems to the American West; the system in Albuquerque began providing dial service in 1902.

While Strowger automatic dial did not use operators, the telephones and the switches were temperamental and always needed adjustments. The older the equipment became, the more trouble it caused. There were no operators to pay, but constant upgrades, adjustments and repair of equipment made it more expensive to use than the operator switchboard system. “Automatic” companies were always after money.

Just as the patents were close to running out, the Bell System was allowed to buy the Strowger patent in 1905. The Bell System had patented scores of step-switch improvements while Strowger kept his patents away from AT&T. After buying the original patent, Bell immediately began to install its own step-switches, which were so well engineered and reliable they served for as long as 40 years. There are many cases where 40-year old steppers would be removed from a Bell System office, refurbished and sold to a third world telephone system to operate for an additional 20 years.

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PICTURED: (above, beginning of article) Mutual Automatic stock certificate (THG file photo).