Saturday, February 7, 2015

$135 per minute for long distance?

“Unlimited minutes” is what we like to hear these days.

Listen, hold that incoming call from your buddy in Hong Kong for a sec….

This month is the 100th anniversary of the first transcontinental phone call in the United States. Alexander Graham Bell—in New York City—called his long-time assistant, Thomas Watson—in San Francisco—over the new ATT&T line that ran 3,400 miles across the country.

“Ahoy! Ahoy! Mr. Watson, are you there? Do you hear me?”

Watson took the call, and history was made.

In 1915 folks had reason to tell themselves that the world was getting smaller. Little did they know….

The first commercial long-distance call was made on the evening of January 25—a fellow in San Francisco called his mom on the East Coast.

Now, of course, he didn’t have unlimited minutes. That call cost him about $7 a minute in 1915 dollars—roughly equivalent to about $135 per minute today.

“Hi Mom, it’s me, Bobby, guess where I am!”

p.s. in 1915 a coast-to-coast railroad trip lasted 90 hours—almost 4 days. 

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015

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