Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Transcontinental Phone Service
We live in a connected world made possible by a rich history of innovation. This month, AT&T is proud to celebrate one of America’s great innovation milestones: the 100th Anniversary of the first transcontinental telephone call. It was a phone call that changed the world forever – connecting people thousands of miles apart, showcasing a promise of universal communication and spurring a century of innovation shaping the world we live in today.
The historical phone call took place on January 25, 1915 leading up to the opening of the Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) and World’s Fair in San Francisco. The call was initiated by Alexander Graham Bell (in New York) and included Theodore Vail, the president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (now AT&T) in Jekyll Island, United States President Woodrow Wilson in the White House and Bell’s assistant Thomas Watson in San Francisco.
The call revolutionized communications for years to come. It marked the start of AT&T’s transcontinental telephone system, which at the time consisted of 130,000 telephone poles and 2,500 tons of copper wire stretching nearly 3,400 miles from New York to San Francisco. Today, AT&T provides service for nearly 119 million Americans.
Just as Alexander Graham Bell acknowledged on the historic call the “hard work, innovation and ingenuity” of those who made transcontinental communication possible, AT&T celebrates the spirit of innovation that continues to lead our company, our industry, and our country, forward.
AT&T is paving the way for the future of communications. The work done in the AT&T Foundry, at AT&T Labs, and the ideas submitted by our employees through our TIP Program continue to push the envelope of what’s possible.
The future of innovation also depends on our youth – and a workforce that is inspired and prepared to tackle the challenges of the 21st century global, knowledge-based economy. AT&T is committed to education and has committed to investing $350 million to education by 2017 – one of the largest-ever corporate contributions to education in American history.
We will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the first transcontinental call throughout 2015 by supporting San Francisco’s centennial anniversary of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE100). The AT&T Archives and History Center has loaned four ceremonial phones from the first call to the California Historical Society to commemorate the occasion. We are also pleased to contribute $50,000 to help launch and support the PPIE100 Passport to Success program, an educational initiative challenging students to advance their learning about the innovations of “Then, Now and Tomorrow.”
We have come a long way since the first transcontinental call 100 years ago. Just think how far we will go in the next century!