The Telecommunications Virtual Museum site copyright © 2004-2017 Telecommunications History Group. All Rights Reserved.
Site design and creation by Jeff Georgeson
Welcome to the Virtual Museum of Telecommunications, a collection of sites dedicated to the preservation of telecommunications history. Here you'll find many different exhibits, each in a virtual room and extensively cross-linked with areas both inside and outside the museum.

Watch for new, exciting changes to this part of our website (coming soon)!

This site was developed to make the assets, processes and successes of the communications industry available to all for research and enjoyment. We will not only exhibit the history of the industry, but also tell the stories of the people who made it all possible.

Our museum has many features. For instance, you can place the mouse pointer over the text to the left to find out more about that area of the museum. Clicking on the area name will take you to that area.

You can search the museum at any time through the Search box in the upper right. You can also view the site map, a text listing of the sections and rooms of the museum.

For further information about this project, contact Lisa Berquist at
The Special Exhibits section (or area, or wing) of the Virtual Museum is a changing focus on some of the exhibits and collections of our partner museums. Currently we're featuring the history of Colorado telecommunications, an exhibit also featured at the Denver Public Library. Another exhibit features The Museum of Communications in Seattle. Another exhibit tours the historical Mountain States headquarters building in Denver, CO, and another features the Allen True murals therein. Finally, we have an exhibit honoring H.B. Santee, the Western Electric engineer who worked on and accompanied the first public address system on its trip across the U.S. in the service of President Warren G. Harding. This last collection is brought to the Virtual Museum courtesy of the Telecommunications History Group.

It was in the evening of March 9, 1916, in the dusty little town of Columbus, New Mexico. The town’s telephone operator, Susan Parks, was asleep with her baby girl in the bedroom of a small wooden house on the town’s main street. And then ...

Suddenly Mrs. Parks was awakened by the sound of gunfire. She quickly snatched the baby from the crib and put her under the bed. Then she crept to the bedroom window to peek out to where the gunfire was coming from. She saw heavily armed men riding horses, wearing sombreros, firing pistols and rifles at anyone standing in the street. She saw bodies falling to the ground. She was horrified!

Yet Susan Parks played the role of Paul Revere that day, getting a message to the outside world through her switchboard that the town was under attack--a switchboard being hit by bullets even as she tried to go through all the steps necessary to get through. She and many other telephone heroes are presented in the Heroes section of exhibits.

Disasters occur nearly every day somewhere in the world, whether natural or man-made. Floods, blizzards, fires, tornadoes, and worse wreak havoc not only on people and their lives but also on the very things upon which we rely for communication with the outside world. Roads are destroyed, houses crushed or swept away, and phone and television lines knocked out. Sometimes the necessities of life—food, shelter, contact, and help—are unavailable for days or even weeks following such events.

Telephone company employees react swiftly to such emergencies, putting aside their own losses to restore at least some small part of people's lives to normality, and providing a crucial link to the outside world in order to aid emergency workers, relatives, and friends to help those in need.

In this online exhibit, captivating photographs recall the disasters that have befallen us, and demonstrate the response of those who restored service to thousands of telephone subscribers.

Although the Bell System is the most well-known of US telephone companies, our industry began with hundreds of local companies all trying to deliver telephone services to their subscribers. In 2005, there are again hundreds of companies competing for our telecommunications business.

This area of the museum highlights the histories of those companies, large and small, historic and contemporary.

From party line to online: The telephone had as big an impact on the 20th century as the Industrial Revolution had on the 19th century. It changed the way we live, work and play--and contributed to the invention of television, computers, pagers, fax machines, e-mail, the Internet, online stock trading and more.

But how does it all work? This area of the museum tells about the science behind telephones and the equipment used with them, from the early days when Alexander Graham Bell made calls across the room to the present, when calls are routinely routed through satellites. From transatlantic cables to voices in the air, from party lines run through operators to fully automated and computerized telephony, this section describes the way telecommunications works.

The history of Colorado communications stretches from a time before telephones to the present day and beyond. Tour this exhibit to learn why we have (and need) telecommunications and how it has changed over the years.

Terminal equipment is what the user knows of the telecommunications system. It is the decorator phone at your bedside, the PBX at your business and the telephone booth on the street corner. Come explore the variety of equipment we've used since the invention of the telephone in 1876, right up through today's multifunctional cell phones.

Come behind the scenes to learn how telephone calls are routed through the worldwide switching system. See working panel switches, crossbars, and electronic switching systems. Explore the Museum of Communications, the most complete collection of working switches in the US.

The Telecommunications Virtual Museum consortium brings together an important collection of manuscripts, photographs, books, and pamphlets documenting the history of telecommunications business and technology. But where to begin?

This area of the Museum allows searches on documentary archives throughout our consortium--items that may or may not be in the Virtual Museum itself. It also allows access to our research expertise.

The Telecommunications Virtual Museum maintains a list of museums and archives that may be of interest, regardless of their affiliation with the Virtual Museum.

Please click here for a list of museums and archives of potential interest to viewers of this website.

Click on the area of the map you would like to visit. If you wish to return to the main welcome page, click here or on the Site Entrance.

If you want a listing of all the exhibits in the museum, please see the Site Map. If you want to search for a specific term or terms, please use the "Search the museum" box in the upper right of any page.

If you wish to keep a copy of the list of exhibits open while you explore the museum (in effect, keeping a map with you on your travels), please click on the "detachable map" icon on the left side of any page.
return to museum entrance | THG main page
site map | educational resources

return to entrance