TELEPHONES

Telephone sets are the devices that subscribers did not originally own but were instead leased from the phone company. The museum has many representative models, from a copy of Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone to videophones.

Earliest Telephones

The museum has an exact replica of the telephone that spoke the words, “Mr. Watson, come here! I need you!” by Alexander Graham Bell, March 10, 1876. These are the first words that were ever spoken by telephone. Additionally, there are many other telephones from the past to the present.

Wall Phones

The museum has a large collection of early wall phones. Wall phones were popular in the early days since telephones were so big and heavy that they were immovable. Many of the phones on display ring, dial and are completely functional.

British Post Office Call Box Model K-6

The British Post Office Call Box Model K-6 was first introduced in England in 1936. The story behind the exhibit is fascinating. A museum volunteer who is also a radio amateur spoke to another amateur in England by shortwave. He suggested that the museum might need a call box for a display. British Telecom offered him the call box and then delivered it to his house where it sat for a year. This particular call box was in service in Norwich, England.

Badly needing to remove the phone booth, he contacted BBC Television to transport it as part of a human interest story. They didn’t want to. Next he tried BBC Radio and they wouldn’t help either. As a final measure he contacted John Major the Prime Minister of Great Britain and his office contacted the British Consulate in Seattle. The British Airforce was contacted and they located a Russian cargo plane flight leaving East Midlands Airport for Boeing Field.

British Telecom trucked the phone booth to the airport and loaded it onto the Russian cargo plane. When the plane landed at Boeing Field, Boeing arranged to transport it to the museum and the phone booth was moved to the second floor by hoist. Surprisingly, this call box weighs 1,500 pounds. During the process of lifting it the call box came loose on the lifting sling and was almost dropped. Fortunately it survived the process and so did the museum volunteers.