Sam's Telecomms History Links Page


I am tired of receiving e-mail requests for reciprocal links from commercial companies. I don't do reciprocal links. Let me make it clear....

These links are my personal choice and those which I think will be of interest to collectors, restorers, and researchers in telecomms history. I have no connection with any commercial sites and those appearing here satisfy my criterion above. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of any of their products.

I've found it hard to spare time to keep this page updated. So I'm not updating it. Please don't bother to send me corrections or notes of dead links. SMH Jun 2017

And stop sending me links to non-telecomms sites that you think 'would make a great addtition' to my site.

Old Phone Telephony

Alte Telefone Great pictures of Siemens & Halske phones through the ages and biographies of the best-known inventors in telephone history. Mostly in German. There are still pictures from the museum, based in a restored railway station at Hittfeld in Germany, but only the links in German seem to work.
The American Experience A PBS programme on "The Telephone". A series of articles based on the TV series covering the invention of the telephone, including items about Gray, Bell and Edison and Real Audio interviews with telephone operators.
Antique Telephone History Website Provided by the Antique Telephone Collectors Association this site has photos of early phones, some excellent links to more historic sites and downloads of Western Electric information and goodies.
AT&T Long Line Facilities Albert LaFrance presents the history of Microwaves and co-axial carrier systems from early days in the 1940s to their eventual demise. See also his site on Cold War communications.
Bob's Old Phones The late Bob Estreich was a former employee of Telecom Australia. On his site he wrote many articles about telephones, telephone companies, and inventors with illustrations. Since Bob's death in 2011 his information has been passed to the Australasian Telephone Collectors Society and has now been made available on their web pages.
The Cedar Knoll Telephone & Telegraph Company This is what Paul Wills calls his home collection of NA equipment representing a typical small Pennsylvania Railroad Wire Chief's office. Toll test boards, AE PAX, Railroad Dispatchers' desk.
The Central Office A tribute to the step-by-step exchanges of North America, past and present. Images of step office, panel office, crossbar office and recordings of telephone sounds.
Crusty Old Joes Place Joe Stevens, now resident in Kodiak, Alaska, recounts his experiences as a tech with the Norfolk & Carolina Telephone & Telegraph Company in the 1960s. His tale of the blizzard in the 70s is particulalry worth reading.
Dean Forest Railway Telecoms The Dean Forest Railway has a network of Strowger exchanges linking its sites in Gloucestershire. The Telecoms Department have written a series of excellent articles about their equipment and about Strowger principles in general.
Kingsway Telephone Exchange Subterranea Britannica's Research Study Group tell the story of this underground exchange, built in London during the Cold War. Photos and plans of the site. Links to other RSG articles on Cold War relics.
Old Phone Guy Articles about telephony and circuit designs for testing your collection. Another site that doesn't say who wrote it. Seems to be owned by Colin Chambers in California.
Light Straw Strowger Telephone Exchange Pages Named after the colour chosen for exchange equipment racks by the British Post Office, this site gives a clear and comprehensive history of the development of the British telephone network. It explains how the present numbering plan developed, and the Zone and Group structure, with articles about operators and manual boards, trunk switching, the digital network and much more.
Payphones of the World 2600 magazine has collected pictures of payphones from various parts of the world - Parts of Africa, N & S America, Middle East, Europe and New Zealand.
PRX - the world's finest reed switch A site dedicated to the Philips PRX reed crosspoint switch produced during the 1970s. Many are still in operational around the world though the only UK installations were in Jersey. 'Remember When UK' specialise in restoring, among other things, red telephone boxes. Interesting archive material about phone box decoration, installation. Give your wallet an anasthetic before looking at the prices.
Société Général des téléphones Frédéric Nibart's history of the Société Générale des Téléphones and the early introduction of the telephone to France in the 1880/90s. A well researched account of the SGT's beginnings as a telephone operator and its later transition to an instrument manufacturer following the introduction of the State monopoly. Plenty of pictures including vintage instruments. In French and now with an English version.
Strowger Appreciation Pages Another THG member, Martin Loach has produced these pages of photographs of various types of Strowger exchange, both private and public. Some are publicity material and others are in-the-flesh photos of real exchanges.
Strowger Net THG President, Andy Emmerson, describes this site as devoted to trailing-edge technology. A wealth of articles on history of telephony, including lists of firsts and lasts of various exchanges.
The Strowger Telecomms Page Fellow THG member, Michael Spalter, has produced this homage to the great electromechanical system. Clear technical descriptions with diagrams of the British telephone system. Best of all are the recordings of the sound of Strowger switches in action.
The Telephone Archive A number of TCI & ATCI members have contributed to this site with: Pictures of telephone signs; The Kellogg pages with catalogues, articles, and reference materials; and beautiful pics of McMurdo phones.
The Telephone File Bob Freshwater's Magnum Opus of British subscribers' apparatus. There are pictures, sounds, circuit diagrams, instruction manuals, reference material. A work in progress - plenty done, but Bob invites help with extending the information.
Antique Telephone History Website Chuck Eby is a collector of antique telephone instruments. Contains many photos of his collection with informative description, a series of excellent historical articles and many links to other sites.
Telephone History Pages Mike Sandman is a telephone dealer in Chicago. His history pages include many fascinating adverts for early telephone instruments.
Telephones UK Mike Fletcher shows us a wide range of telephones, old and new(ish) telephones and other subscribers apparatus, plus kiosks, supplied by the GPO or by BT (post 1980). A visual feast!
Telephone World "Diamond" Dave Perrussel has devoted this site to the telephone, telephone networks and related systems. Particularly recommended is the section on payphones with pictures of most of the types used in the US. Also recordings of tones and announcements

Telephone Tribute

David Massey has put together this huge collection of information about telephony. Photos, technical & historical information, and too much more to list here. Mainly N. American info

The UAX Project

Andy Greening, THG's UAX king, has put together a site explaing all about the British Post Office's Unit Automatic Exchanges, Strowger switches for use in rural and lightly populated areas. Lots of text and diagrams. A growing resource as Andy adds more information.

World Payphones

Tom Fletcher has amassed this treasure trove of payphones pictured on location in countries from Australia to Vanuatu. Detailed photos and histories of many models from a wide variety of manufacturers.

GEC Phone Telephone Collections

ACTW Telephone Museum Robert Wessels' collection in the Netherlands. Presently private, though he hopes to be able to open it to the public in the future. Many images of European telephone systems - both exchanges and instruments. In Dutch and English.
Antique Neil Carpenter is mad about bakelite phones. And not just bakelite, but all old British phones. Neil has made a business of restoring old telephones for sale and very smart they look too, but certainly not cheap!
Australasian Telephone Collectors Society The A.T.C.S. is a world wide organisation of private telephone collectors. The sample newsletter on their site contains several interesting articles on telecomms history. Their page of links is also very extensive.
Cyber Telephone Museum Ron Christianson's exhibition of Common & Rare Antique Telephones. Clever use of graphics to show thumbnails. Worth the wait while it downloads.
The Dutch Online Telephone Museum Remco Enthoven has some nice photos of his collection, ranging from a 1928 Siemens desk phone to 1980s Ericsson model. There is also an unusual answering machine which uses a magnetic disc. In Dutch & English
Historische Telefone Wilhelm Klaas has devoted pages on his company site to his collection of old telephones. Beautiful pictures of an assortment of German and Austrian equipment. Worth visiting even if you can't read German.
JKL museum of telephony John K. La Rue’s Museum of Telephony, near Stockton, California, contains 'telephones and related items from the dawn of telephony to the present day'. As no opening times or admission charges are quoted I presume this is a private collection, but available for viewing by appointment.
L2L1 French Old Phones Site V. Lomba has assembled some delightful illustrations of French telephone instruments dating from 1900 to the 1960s, including the Hygienic Handset and the Frog Phone. Download his unique French Phone History screen saver. In English and French
Ove's Telephone Pages Ove Svensson, a Swedish telephone collector, presents his collection of telephones and switchboards, many very early models from L.M. Ericsson. Also pictures from the Swedish association of telephone collectors.[in English] Peter Walker shares with us some beautifully clear pictures of his collection of mainly British telephones. Models date from the nineteenth century up to the present day.
Telephone Collectors International TCI are helping to preserve the history of the telecommunications industry by collecting of telephones and related material. Some illustrations of both phones and exchange equipment, extracts from the newsletter Singing Wires and a wide-ranging list of links.
Vienna Telephon Museum Robert has some beautifully clear pictures of early 20th century phones - table, field telephones as well as historic photos and early catalogue pictures. In German, but just look at the pictures!
Vince's Cavalcade of Phones Vince Budrick presents pictures of his collection of (mainly US) phones with notes on their history. Models covered include those from Automatic Electric, Western Electric, Stromberg Carlson.

single needle Telegraphy

Atlantic Cable and Submarine Telegraphy History A wealth of resources on this site, including such oddities as Atlantic Cable sheet music. There are reprints of historic articles and biographical information on Cyrus W. Field, who financed the first Atlantic cable and an impressive list of links on the subject. Gil Smith is the moderator of the Greenkeys mailing list on QTH.NET, and this site is dedicated to all mechanical teleprinters. There is extensive information on virtually every model produced by the Teletype Corporation and some excellent stuff from the late Alan Hobbs, G8GOJ on Creed machines.
Buffalo Central Terminal Telegraph Office Pictures by Floyd Baker, who was employed by the New York Central Railroad as an Operator and Wire Chief from 1959 to 1964, together with his firsthand recollection of the Teletype era.
Les Télégraphes Chappe A site dedicated to the Chappe military telegraph line in France. A number of the sites still exist and some have even been restored to working order (in French)
Data Communication Trivia Bob Pollard's rather modestly titled pages are a very detailed history of data communications development and technical advances over the last 150 years. A series of one-page articles on a variety of topics from early telegraphy through microwaves and packet switching to the Internet.
DF30E's Teleprinter Museum Henning Treumann has a history of the Telex service and pictures and details of a wide range of teleprinters. English and German text available.
Distant Writing The late Steven Roberts prepared a history of the telegraph companies in Britain from 1838 to 1868. Illustrated with hundreds of original engravings, maps and city plans. A mine of information for this seminal period in telegraphy. The website is preserved to honour his memory.
The Electromagnetic Telegraph Dr James B. Calvert, Associate Professor Emeritus of Engineering, University of Denver, has written a series of papers covering topics such as the early history of telegraphy, teletypwriters, alphabets & codes, and even pneumatic telegraphs.
The Evolution of Character Codes, 1874-1968 An excellent article about the development of telegraph codes, from Baudot to ASCII, by Eric Fischer. A really scholarly work (there are 5 pages of references). Eric has also translated a number of articles about Emile Baudot.
Fons Vanden Berghen Collection
Exhibition May 2008
Fons Vanden Berghen has amassed an amazing collection 19th century telegraph instruments and early electrical apparatus. In April 2008 he exhibited some of the collection in the Old Post Office in his home town of Halle in Belgium. The second link chronicles the setup, opening and display with other pictures of the visitors, especially the fascinated children from local schools.
Facsimile & SSTV History Marius Rensen has assembled an excellent history of FAX. Pity he doesn't acknowledge his sources - you might recognise a couple of my pictures on there.
Fuzzy Modes Website Murray Greenman, ZL1BPU, explains the mysteries of the Hellscreiber, invented in 1929 by Dr Hell, a cross between teleprinters and FAX. Principles of operation, history and pictures of equipment.
Global Connections Oskar A. Wagner in Vienna has a wonderful series of pages on telegraphic history. Pictures of all the major European teleprinter models. In German
Growing Pains at the Crossroads of the World A Submarine Cable in the 1870's. IEEE Proceedings article from 1976 by Bernard S. Finn detailing the hardships of life on a telegraph station in the early years.
Heart's Content IEEE Milestone
Heart's Content Cable Station
The North American end of the first Transatlantic telegraph cable terminated here in Canada. First link is the IEEE Canada's Milestones of Engineering page including a tour of the site museum. Second link is from Jerry Proc, VE3FAB, with a page of history and photos.
History of optical telegraphy from Pauli Kruhse's Finnish history pages (in English). Traces the rise and decline of the military telegraph in the Russian empire.
Museum of Submarine Telegraphy, Porthcurno Established with the help of Cable & Wireless, at the landing site of the first transAtlantic cable in 1870, this museum displays the history of transcontinental cable telegraphy with may working intsruments on show. An inventive Website that makes good use of Shockwave animations. A visit to the Instrument Room is a must.
Tom Perrera's Telegraph, Radio and Scientific
Instrument Museum
Tom Perera, W1TP, describes this as a cyber-museum. Information for Morse key collectors and photos of Tom's collection of keys and sounders.
Railroad Signalling The late Jeff Seidel had a daunting collection of railway related items. Skip the railway signals and look at his collection of Teletype machines. Then see the Automatic Electric telephone exchange. Site is being maintained in memory of Jeff.
RTTY.COM George Hutchison, W7KSJ, has dedicated his site to all aspect of amateur radio teletype (RTTY) operation. Includes history of the Teletype Corp and teletype pictures. Also diagrams and handbooks for getting those old machines on the air.
Submarine Cable Telegraphy Russ Kleinman explains how telegraphy is carried out over a submarine cable using polarity reversals.
Telegrams Larry Rice, VK6CP's page devoted to the telegram in all its forms, Morse, teleprinter, by wire and by radio.
Telegraph Lore Greg Raven's pages are dedicated to the study of all aspects of Morse telegraphy.
TTYPUNCH Emulator Just type in some text and see it punched out as ITA2 teleprinter tape. From Ralph D. Kloth
Universal Stock Ticker Company A company that manufactures modern reproductions of the famous ticker tape machine. There's a fascinating video on the front page and links to a brochure including the history of the stock ticker..
US Navy Radio Equipment Nick England, KD4CPL, has made a virtual museum of US Navy radio equipment which includes photos and technical information on radio teletype receivers, transmtiters, teleprinters, control equipment.
Western Historic Radio Museum Henry Rogers, WA7YBS/WHRM, has pictures and descriptions of using Teletype Corporation machines for radio teletype, RTTY, operation.
Western Union A brief history of the company that is more or less synonymous with telegraphy.

Story of the telephone Museums

I've only included museums which have an online display of some of their exhibits.

BT's Connected Earth An ambitious project to present telecomms history and BT's collection of artefacts through a variety of actual museums and a Web site. A stunning amount of information. Well worth a few hours browsing!.
Darvel Telephone Museum Max Flemmich has created an absolute gem of a telephone museum in the former bakery beside his home in Darvel, Ayrshire. It is a labour of love after spending his working life with Post Office Telephones. The museum is open by appointment and it is very popular with local schools. Bill Edwards' amazing panorama technique allows you to scan the entire museum with your mouse and zoom in with the scroll wheel.
Danish P&T Museum Unfortunately there is only a summary in English. You have to follow the link marked Udstilling to see the exhibits with Danish description.
Ferrymead Historic Park The Post & Telegraph Museum at Ferrymead Historic Park Christchurch New Zealand, housed in a vintage building, recreates a small town Post Office from the 1920's. Exhibits include an Ericsson drop shutter manual switchboard in working condition and a Western Electric 7A rotary exchange.
Hawthorne Works Museum Western Electric purchased 113 acres of prairie land west of Chicago in an area known as 'Hawthorne' to build the manufacturing arm of the Bell Telephone System. There is a nice gallery of photos showing the works during its heyday.
Hungarian Post & Telephone Museum Takes a bit of navigating, but a good virtual presentation of the exhibits with historical annotations.
Military Communications and Electronics Museum Based in Kingston Ontario, this museum presents Canadian military comms in all aspects, the troops, events and technology. Images of line plant, radio, radar, phone and teleprinters.
The Museum of Communications Sponsored by the Washington Telephone Pioneers of America, and is located in Seattle. What a collection! Exchanges, telephones, teleprinters. Even a British K6 kiosk. And some things you didn't know Western Electric made - washing machines?.
North American Datacommunications Museum Don Robert House amassed a collection of US teleprinters and telegraph equipment formerly on display but which was deeded to San Diego State University (SDSU) for permanent display. Unfortunately lack of funding means the display was closed in 2005, but there is still plenty of stuff on the website. Mostly Teletype equipment with photos.
Queensland Telecommunications Museum Billed as the largest collection of Telecommunication Memorabilia in Queensland. From Aboriginal message sticks to telephone exchanges, there are lots of high resolution pictures of the collection. Of particular note are the Siemens 16 exchange and the Murray multiplex teleprinter.
RAF Signals Museum, Henlow A small museum local to me which tells the story of the Royal Air Force signals. Pictures of some of the early equipment from as far back as WW I and of apprentice training which took place at Henlow. They have a recreation of one of the many 'Y' Stations used to receive coded enemy messages in WW II, which were then sent on to Bletchley Park for decoding.
Royal Signals Museum A compact history of military telecomms illustrated with items from the collection on display.
The Telephone Museum Long associated with the THG, the Telephone Museum is part of the Milton Keynes Museum at Wolverton. Includes a virtual tour of the masses of stuff they have on display - phones, exchange equipment, mobile exchanges and more.

AG Bell Personalities

Alexander Bain - Biography Alexander Bain, a Scottish clock and instrument maker, invented the first electrical clock, patented the basics of facsimile, developed chemical telegraph receivers and punch-tapes to speed up telegraph transmission. From the History of Computing Project.
AG Bell National Historic Site Contains a brief biography, chronology and photos of the exhibits. Bell spent his later life at Cape Breton in research into aeronautics and hydrofoils.
AG Bell's Path to the Telephone The site attempts to reconstruct the steps taken by Bell in his invention of the telephone, with links to other inventors and ideas.
Alexander Graham Bell - Free Educational Materials Garden of Praise has a variety of educational materials aimed at elementary school level. There are worksheets and printable activities as well as online activities such as a word search, crossword and jigsaw puzzle.
Bell Family papers An online version of the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress which comprises a selection of 4,695 items (totaling about 51,500 images).
Frederick George Creed A Nova Scotian's Contribution to Data Communications Technology. A short biography of the founder of the Creed teleprinter company and history of the business. From the Library &Amp; Archives of Canada virtual collection.
Edison - Ford Estates, Fort Myers Edison's Winter estate in Florida contains biographical information audio/video clips and a virtual tour of the estate.
Emile Berliner Best known for his invention of the flat disc gramophone, Berliner also worked on improvements to the telephone microphone for Bell. Library of Congress Collection
Elisha Gray A brief biography from Oberlin College, Ohio, where Gray studied and later taught.
Elisha Gray - The Race to Patent the Telephone's page on Elisha Gray contains a brief biography and tells the story of the patent wars with Bell. There is a good selection of links for further reading in the subject and a link to the full text of Gray's patent caveat.
Lemelson-MIT Resource "The Lemelson-MIT Program is dedicated to honoring the acclaimed and unsung heroes who have helped improve our lives through invention." Short biography in the Inventor Archive. Sam Morse (telegraph),
Antonio Meucci A single page biography of Meucci who invented a telephone but failed to get it patented, raising doubts about the tactics of the Bell company's lawyers. On the same site you'll also find Luigi Galvani, Guglielmo Marconi and Alessandro Volta
Samuel F.B. Morse papers The online presentation of The Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress comprises about 6,500 items, or approximately 50,000 images, that document Morse's wide-ranging career from portrait painter to inventor of the telegraph.
Marconi Calling BAFTA award-winning website dedicated to the Life, Science and Achievements of Guglielmo Marconi.
Almon B. Strowger's Grave The grave in Greenwood cemetery in St Petersburg, Florida, was restored by the community association. Article from St Petersburg Times.
Wireless World The Museum of the History of Science at Oxford University has received much of the collection of artefacts from the Marconi Company. These pages give a concise history of Marconi's role in the development of wireless.

Morse operator Other Sites

Bell Labs History Alcatel-Lucent site has articles about milestone achievements of Bell Labs inventors. Follow links at bottom of page.
Bell System Memorial Pages This site descrbies itself as "A website created as a memorial to the people, history, technology and the 'Spirit of Service' of what was known as the 'Bell System' prior to 1984.". It Also includes a section devoted to Western Electric, the manufacturing arm of the Bell System.
200 Ans de télécommunications La Cité des télécoms has a series of articles in French on 200 years of telecomms history.
The Douglas Self Museum of RetroTech Some articles with pictures on a variety of communications topics, including eletcromagnetic amplifiers, optical telegraphs, speaking tubes, heliographs and several other curious inventions.
The Mercurians A special interest group of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), focussed on the history of telecommunications. It's either fairly heavy in academic in tone or a jolly good spoof. Back issues of their magazine, the Antenna. contain an article about Dracula if you want a good laugh.
The Once and Future Web Worlds woven by the telegraph and internet. From the US National Library of Medicine. Slightly annoying layout but a lot of interesting items - pictures, sound and video clips.
Telecomms Heritage Group The UK organisation for all with an interest in the history of telecommunications. Even more links than I have here under their Links Tab
This is a recording Formerly 'The Web Page You Have Reached' Almost too wierd for words! Recordings of telephone tones and announcements from around the N. American network and elsewhere. As another bit of fun, author Jenn, has created "Touch Touch Tunes", which offers instruction on how to play music with your touch tone phone - a much needed service for the true telephone junkie.'
University of Salford History of Communication Part of a larger project on Engaging with Communications and in association with the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry. A series of well-written articles on aspects of telecomms history and photographs of their collection with historic detail.
Web History of Telecommunications Students at the Fachhochschule für Technik at Esslingen prepared what it claims is one of the most comprehensive summaries of the history of telecommunications available on the Web. Well researched and neatly illustrated. The assortment of authors leads to a rather variable style, but highly recommended none the less. Unfortunately now no longer available at the original URL, but still accessible via this link at

Latest Changes: Notice added and odd corrections Feb 2008. All checked and corrected, May 2008, May and Aug 2009, personalities expanded + more links Aug 09. Checked & corrected, new links added Dec 2011. Faulty links fixed Jan 2013. Faulty links fixed or deleted Mar 2015.