Classic Tech: Watch a telephone operator training video

AT&T Archives publishes 1926 operator training school silent film

My oldest daughter (age 7) recently learned how to use our home phone, and is using it to occasionally call her friends to chat about first-grade drama (it's only a matter of time before she starts pestering us for a cell phone).


I bring this up because using our phones today is second-nature, but it wasn't always the case. In the early days of telephone communications, people couldn't easily contact one another, and there certainly wasn't dialing or pushing buttons - you needed to have an operator assist you with your phone call.

The AT&T Archives on YouTube has published a bunch of different films regarding the use of telephone usage - they recently posted this 1926 film called "Training for Service", a recruiting video that "shows a young woman going through the initial phases of a training program to become a telephone operator." Because the telephone system was growing rapidly, the Bell System began training schools to meet the demand for new operators.

My favorite part of the film is the "rest rooms" that were created at these training centers - how nice would it be to just take a break during the day, play a record or the piano, and dance with your fellow students?

As we've seen in other footage by AT&T, the telephone operator was one of those positions/careers that technology eventually eliminated. By the 1970s, most operators were no longer needed, as customers had dial telephones or push-button phones and knew how to use them.

Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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