AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

Bonus Edition Introduction by George Kupczak of the AT&T Archives and History Center

Part of an internal quarterly AT&T video newsmagazine called Directions (for DSG Directions, DSG = Data Systems Group), this video piece interviews operators from around the United States who were working during the famous War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938.

Originally aired on October 30, 1938, the radio broadcast caused panic, and at the time prompted listeners to dial "0" for operator in droves. (Or, if they lived in an area still without direct dial service, then just picking up the phone would get the operator.) The operator, circa 1938, was the first line of defense in terms of emergency information, but of course, the operators knew nothing of any alien landings. Yet they were well-trained in keeping a level head and calming customers, which, undoubtedly, came in handy at the time.

Orson Welles himself later appeared in a Bell System film, To Communicate is the Beginning.

Directions, as a series, started in 1985.

Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 10/24/2012