Electrical Engineer, January 12, 1897, pages 65-66:
THE TELEPHONE IN OUR HOMES.
BY W. H. ECKERT.
THE editorial entitled "The Telephone in Our Homes," which appears in The Electrical Engineer of Dec. 30, recalls to mind that that which is now cited as a novelty, namely, the transmission of music over the wires to subscribers, was accomplished years ago by the Bell Telephone Companies.
The City & Suburban Telegraph Association (Bell Telephone Exchange), of Cincinnati, O., of which the writer was general manager, placed Blake transmitters in all the principal theatres and concert halls of that city in 1879. Subscribers had music "on tap" at all matinee performances and every evening, and frequently as many as four hundred subscribers were connected on to the music lines. Many of the subscribers, desiring to entertain their friends, applied to the company for additional receivers and often twenty-five or thirty receivers were furnished so that the subscriber and his friends could enjoy the performances.
I call to mind the stand taken by the manager of the Grand Opera House. A subscriber to the telephone system told the manager that he did not intend to go to the theatre because he could sit at his home, hear the orchestra, the songs aud even the steps taken by the performers when dancing. A few cases of this kind and the manager ordered the transmitters removed from the theatre. The same may be said to have applied to the concert halls. Then, besides, the American people use the telephone as a business device and the giving of music interfered with the service considerably. It also lost its novelty, and, except in isolated cases, it has been abandoned.
In June, 1880, at the convention of the National Democratic Party, held at Cincinnati, the writer arranged with the chairman for two Blake transmitters to be placed on either side of his desk. Before the convention, score cards, showing the vote of each State, etc., were sent to every subscriber. Each subscriber was given connection, if desired, with the instruments at the convention hall, and during the three days of the session, more than one-half of the subscribers to the system were connected with those wires. People in all parts of the city heard the speeches of the chairman, roll-call and other matters relating to the business of the convention. It may be said that the affair was highly successful, and this, it will be seen, occurred over sixteen years ago.
The transmission of music, speeches, sermons, etc., has been accomplished by the licensees of the American Bell Telephone Company many times since, both for short and long distances.
At Cincinnati, the fire department and police headquarters were operated in connection with the general telephone system, each department having an exchange of its own. The operators kept records of all news items relating to each department for the benefit of the newspapers of the city. Then, besides, each subscriber to the general system could apply to either of the departments for any information relating to fires, arrests, disturbances, etc., at any time during the day or night. Fire alarms were sent in by telephone; officers were sent for in like manner.
The above, in a small way, accomplished nearly the same results as those secured at Buda Pest--it was simply a reversal of the plan followed at that place; instead of having the news sent to the subscriber, the subscriber applied for it. While the telephone may not be exploited to its greatest extent, I do not think that anything has been done in Europe that has not been done here.