Alexander Graham Bell, co-founder of AT&T, demonstrating on a prototype of the original telephone courtesy www.wired.com.
With the 1915 World Exposition coming up in San Francisco, the AT & T company president thought it would be a good idea to mark it with the opening of a transcontinental telephone system. The question the president faced, however, was how to amplify sound. He hired Dr. Harold Arnold to work on solving the problem. In 1912, inventor Dr. Lee de Forest had invented the audion. ON the advice of Arnold, AT & T bought the rights to the audion and successfully implemented it in the telephone system.
Map of transcontinental telephone line courtesy www.theatlantic.com.
In the Fall of 1913, construction began on the North American intercontinental telephone line. Work went quickly -- so quickly, in fact, that the line was completed by June 17, 1914 well before the Exposition was set to begin. Therefore, AT & T delayed the official opening of the telephone line by six months.
Final pole completed at Wendover, Utah on intercontinental telephone line circa 1914 courtesy www.corp.att.com.
The first transcontinental phone call would require a speaker phone, involving four parties: Alexander Graham Bell in New York City, AT&T President in Jekyll Island, Georgia, President Woodrow Wilson in Washington D.C. and Thomas Watson in San Francisco. Professor Bell proclaimed those famous words: "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you!" Only this time Mr. Watson's response was different: "It would take me a week now." And the rest is history.
First intercontinental phone call courtesy www.corp.att.com.