AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

Part 5 in the Bell System's informative newsreel series, with three stories about various business areas: collection, materials transport, and research & development.

Part I: Coin Collection from Payphones

The film follows an NYC payphone coin collector as he does his job — essentially following the coins through the system, from collection to sorting to counting to banking. Security measures are stressed. They had a number of checks and balances in place to prevent theft at various points within the process. At the time, a hefty amount of revenue came from coin collection from payphones: 20,000 TONS of coins went through the bell system in a year!

AT&T got out of the payphone business in 2008.

Part II: Palletization

It's hard to imagine that, at one point in history, pallets were a new idea! While some sort of pallet system had been used (but not widely adopted throughout industry) since the 1800s in different industries, the pallet standardization across different manufacturing sectors didn't take place until after WWII.

In fact, it was the adoption of a standard pallet system during the early 1940s across the various branches of the military that led to the introduction of the pallet in civilian manufacturing — especially among companies, like Western Electric, that had large military contracts during the War.

Due to materials shortages, it still took a few years for the palletization to take hold company-wide, but by the time this film was made, the company was well on its way to full palletization.

Part III: The Transistor!

The first appearance in Bell System films of one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century, the transistor. Inventors Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley all appear in the film — and Dr. Shockley displays the larger-than-human-size transistor built for the film, which was a whopping 100 times actual size. The impact of the device's invention wouldn't be felt for another few decades, but at this time, its significance was alluded to.

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

Release date: 03/26/2012