The telephone’s start in New Haven


(WTNH) — New Haven is home to so many firsts, including the cotton gin, the lollipop, the hamburger, the first fire sprinkler and the first commercial U.S. telephone exchange. It began with the New Haven District Telephone Company, which dates back to 1878.

The New Haven Museum and the city’s Broken Umbrella Theater have partnered to tell people’s stories centering around the telephone. They are doing recordings from the public and then all of this will be put into a show to debut this fall. These days we hardly call anyone, we just text so we’re looking at some of the history about how the first switchboard was made by George Coy, the manager of the New New Haven Telegraph Agency.

“The great thing about New Haven is that we have this amazing history of inventions and so Mister Coy starts taking bits and pieces that he has in his house so the handles for tea pot lids, carriage bolts and bustle wire, AKA corset wire and with all of these things he manages to build this 8-line switchboard and he gets the investors, he has two business partners and they officially open for business in January of 1878,” said Amy Durbin, New Haven Museum Education Director.

Did you know the very first telephone operator in Connecticut was from Bridgeport? Her name was Majorie Grey.

“We’re going to have event with the New Haven Museum where we are collecting people’s stories about the telephone or rather people’s experiences with the telephone and how that has changed them in some way,” said Jessica Mack, Broken Umbrella Theater.

I am sure you have a story about the telephone, whether it was a party line, an operator, a phone booth, whatever. You can be a part of the show and record your remembrances on Sunday, March 18th from 1 to 4 in the afternoon at the New Haven Museum, just show up!

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