British Telecom – A good PR stunt is worth repeating
46 years later
How the media snapped at this week’s announcement that the telephone has finally made it to Wales. Goodness knows what they’ve doing up till now, smoke signals, morse code, or just climbing up a hill and yelling. Maybe that explains why the Welsh produce such marvellous singers with superb lung power.
However, having a schoolgirl ring up the bishop of St Asaph isn’t nearly as good as the last time BT tried this stunt. It was 1958 and they got the Queen to Bristol to ring up Edinburgh. She dialled the call herself – truly a feat in the days when the local operator had total control over the process. You can read what was said here. (I bet the Wick-St Asaph conversation wasn’t half as interesting.)
And just like the problem many businesses today have, the introduction of subscriber trunk dialling was necessary to make the phone system scalable. It was completely uneconomic to go on adding more and more operators to connect the growing number of subscribers.
If you, like me, enjoy reading about the development of phone technology, try here.
And this is a marvellously niche blog, sadly no longer maintained, about the early use of local exchange dialling codes. In the 1960s, WHItehall 1212 would connect you to Scotland Yard.