100 Years Ago: March 17-23

From The Indianapolis Star, Sunday, March 18: Moments before midnight, Indianapolis Telephone Company subscribers heard “Central’s” sweet feminine voice ask, “Number, Please,” for the last time. At the stroke of midnight, the phone company’s automatic service began. No more will operators, perched on stools at the switchboard, connect callers with their numbers. The manual service allows telephone subscribers, as by magic, to make their own connections by simply turning a little dial fastened to the base of each telephone instrument. William Fortune, telephone company president, made the first automatic phone call from his office to the Indianapolis Star by removing the receiver and placing his finger in each hole in the dial over each successive number 2-2-3-2-1. Rotating the dial in succession for each numeral, when the last number was completed the bell on the phone at the Star’s office rang.