Sunday , May 29 2022

Everything Old Is New Again

This item is rather astonishing – note the year:

    Telephony, December 18, 1909

    Distributing Music Over Telephone Lines

    Wilmington, Delaware, is enjoying a novel service through the telephone exchange. Phonograph music is supplied over the wires to those subscribers who sign up for the service. Attached to the wall near the telephone is a box containing a special receiver, adapted to throw out a large volume of sound into the room. A megaphone may be attached whenever service is to be given. The box is attached to the line wires by a bridged tap from the line circuit. At the central office, the lines of musical subscribers are tapped to a manual board attended by an operator. A number of phonographs are available, and a representative assortment of records kept on hand.

    When plugged up to a phonograph the subscriber’s line is automatically made busy on the automatic switches with which the Wilmington exchange is equipped. Several lines can be connected to the same machine at the same time, if more than one happens to call for the same selection.

    Each musical subscriber is supplied with a special directory giving names and numbers of records, and the call number of the music department. When it is desired to entertain a party of friends, the user calls the music department and requests that a certain number be played. He releases and proceeds to fix the megaphone in position. At the same time the music operator plugs up a free phonograph to his line, slips on the record and starts the machine. At the conclusion of the piece the connection is pulled down, unless more performances have been requested.

    The rate of charge for this service is very reasonable. It is three cents, for each ordinary piece, and seven cents for grand opera. The subscriber must guarantee $18 per year.

    In most cases the actual amount of music used makes that revenue greater than the regular telephone rent.

    The working of the system attracted much attention at the International convention in Chicago last week, where it was exhibited by the Tel-musici Company, which has its headquarters in the Hoen Bldg., Baltimore, Md. Mr. Geo. R. Webb is president of the company, and Mr. J. J. Comer the general manager, had a very fine working exhibit in the Auditorium Annex.

    ….Much of the success of the system is due to the unique and remarkable loud speaking transmitter developed by Mr. Comer. Another feature of the Tel-musici service, which will be appreciated as a strong point in its favor, is the fact that the cost of the original installation is very low and that the special receiver and horn attached to it can be mounted in any room however remote from the telephone itself, thus enabling the subscriber to place it where it will be least conspicuous and in the way. It will also be appreciated that another point which appeals strongly to prospective subscribers is the fact that no initial expense is necessary on his part and that all he has to do in order to have the most entertaining of music, while at the same time without venturing out into cold or inclement weather, is to merely step to his telephone and notify the central office.

    It is reported that the Tel-musici Company is preparing for thorough campaign to introduce its system among the telephone companies of the United States and that it will very soon establish a Chicago agency to co-operate with its Eastern offices in the placing of its musical and other apparatus properly before the public.

Well that didn’t happen for almost anothe 100 years. Better late than never.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected],, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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