bnr#95 =>

Strowger Automatic Telephone Switch

Object: 58

Strowger Automatic Telephone Switch

Date of origin: 10th March 1891
Author/inventor/context: Almon Brown Strowger

Almon Brown Strowger was born in Penfield near Rochester, New York. An undertaker by profession, he invented the world’s first automatic telephone exchange and, on the 10th March 1891, patented a device in which the on-off current is pulsed corresponding to the digits 0-9. The Strowger or step-by-step switch made it possible to call someone directly instead of going through a listening human operator and thus gave rise to the conceptualization of modern telephone networks. He first invented the device to reroute calls from his competitor’s wife who ran the local exchange putting all the business of the dead through to her husband. His switches were in service until the 1990s when they were replaced by digital technologies.

Graham Harwood