Telephone Newspaper Offered In Oregon
Prior to the invention of the telephone, devices for switching telegraph lines existed. Hungarian Tivadar Puskás built the first telephone exchange in 1877 while he was working for Thomas Edison. The concept of sending entertainment and news over telephone lines by subscription appeared soon afterwards. In 1881 at the 1881 Paris Electrical Exhibition Clément Ader had a listening room where people could hear performances from the Paris Grand Opera. Services were established called “Telephone Newspapers”.
The technical capabilities of the time were limited because amplifying and transmitting telephone signals over long distances was primitive so listeners had to wear headphones to receive the programs, and service areas were generally limited to a single city.
There was Thetarephone in Paris, France (1890), Telephon Hirmondo in Budapest, Hungary (1893), Electrophone in London, England (1895), L’Araldo Telefonico in Rome, Italy in 1910 and the Telephone Herald in Newark, New Jersey in 1911 :
Some were one way services and others were a standard telephone connection where you could contact an operator and choose programming. Selections were not only news and music but outside programs such as live theater and church services. Telephones were still an expensive luxury so the subscribers tended to be the well-to-do. The service was sometimes offered in hotel lobbies through the use of coin-operated receivers. Some systems also accepted paid advertising.
On June 30, 1912 The OREGON SUNDAY JOURNAL and the SUNDAY OREGONIAN announced that the service would be introduced to Oregon. Programming is detailed and a list of hotels planning to offer the service is featured. It is available for five cents a day.