December 15, 1999
Listed at the end of the release
NEW YORK -- Making a millennium list? Checking it twice? If you're working on a story about milestones in telecommunications or technology, here are some highlights from the earliest days of telephony to the present. The events focus on the Northeast region served by Bell Atlantic.
- 1878: Boston's first telephone book is issued. It contains only the names of 67 firms since numbers are not yet used.
- 1879: West Virginia's first phone line was installed in Wheeling, the same year Maine, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia established their first exchanges, allowing customers to easily reach their neighbors by calling operators who then connected the calls.
- 1890: The first coin phone was introduced in New York City.
- 1900: Callers in Cambridge, Mass., became the first in New England to reach an operator using a battery-powered phone rather than a hand crank phone.
- 1922: A mechanical switch makes it possible for New Yorkers in the Pennsylvania "6" exchange to make local calls by dialing instead of first calling the operator. That same year, Mr. Bell dies and during his funeral all phone service in the U.S. and Canada is halted for one minute, something that would be unimaginable today.
- 1927: Transatlantic phone service is established between New York and London.
- 1934: In the midst of the depression, Congress passes the Communications Act of
- 1934 which sets a goal of making telephone service available at an affordable rate to every household.
- 1947: Mobile telephone service was made available along the Boston-Washington highway, and a Boston-New York microwave radio system made possible a new way to transmit telephone, radio, and television signals. Area codes are created.
- 1951: New Jersey residents can now directly dial numbers in California without using an operator. A payphone call in New York City goes from a nickel to a dime.
- 1964: Touch-tone service introduced in Wellesley, Mass.
- 1966: Call Forwarding and Call Waiting are tested for the first time in Wellesley, Mass.
- 1984: Bell Atlantic, NYNEX and five other "Baby Bells" were formed as a result of the break-up of AT&T. As a result, phone customers would have one company providing local phone service and another providing long-distance service.
- 1988: Bell Atlantic was first in the nation to offer Caller ID service in New Jersey.
- 1990: Delaware becomes the first state with border-to-border cellular phone service from Bell Atlantic Mobile.
- 1993: NYNEX introduces voice-activated dialing in New York and other Northeast states. West Virginia becomes 100 percent digitally switched.
- 1996: Bell Atlantic Mobile installs the nation's first digital network using Call Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology. NYNEX announces BigYellowsm, an online, interactive directory listing businesses nationwide.
- 1996: Congress passes the Telecommunications Act of
- 1996, which called for opening telecommunications markets to competition. The Act opened the door for Bell Atlantic and other Bell companies to offer long-distance service as soon as they showed they have opened their local markets. When that happens, phone customers will once again be able to get their local and long-distance service from one company.
- 1997: Bell Atlantic-NYNEX merge, creating the largest local phone company in the nation, serving from Maine to Virginia.
- 1998: Bell Atlantic began offering a high-speed Internet connection using Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology. Bell Atlantic and GTE agreed to merge, creating what will become the leading U.S. wireline and wireless carrier. Bell Atlantic's New England region becomes 100 percent digitally switched.
- 1999: Bell Atlantic and Vodafone Airtouch announced formation of the largest wireless business in the country. Also, Bell Atlantic sought approval from the Federal Communications Commission to offer long-distance service in New York.
Delaware - Ells Edwards, 302-576-5340
Maine - Peter Reilly, 207-797-1335
Maryland - Sandy Arnette, 410-393-7109
Massachusetts - Jack Hoey, 617-743-4760
New Hampshire - Erle Pierce, 603-641-1651
New Jersey - Soraya Rodriguez , 973-649-2279
New York City - John Bonomo, 212-395-0500
New York State - Cliff Lee, 518-396-1095
Pennsylvania - Sharon Shaffer, 215-963-6200
Rhode Island - Lillian McGee, 401-525-2134
Vermont - Joan Jamieson, 802-863-0797
Virginia - Paul Miller, 804-772-1460
Washington, D.C. - Michel Daley, 202-392-1021
West Virginia - Harry Mitchell, 304-344-7562
Bell Atlantic Mobile - Andrea Linskey, 908-306-7845
Directory Group - Phil Santoro, 978-762-1326