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About this video

A profile of the world in flux as the global communications network was still being built, circa 1930. This film pre-dates transoceanic telephone cables, which weren't to come about for another 20 years or so. However, there were radio relays and overland cable. The Pacific Ocean was not yet bridged, yet you could dial Australia by an over-Eurasia route.

The film starts with a young NYC telephone operator's life as she intercepts calls destined for all over the world - or at least the limits of the Bell System at the time. This is basically a travelogue of all the places the Bell System could reach, and we visit France, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Argentina, Chile, and Australia. Which is not to say that other parts of the world weren't wired up yet - they were - but their networks were not necessarily connected to the U.S. at this point.

The Bell System first made calls to Europe available in 1927; the cost was a whopping $75 for three minutes. The first year that transatlantic telephone service was available, there were 2250 calls placed to the U.K.; by 1971, there were more than ten million international calls made.

Original audience: shown in theaters.
Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 08/29/2011

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