Publicity Event Marks “The First” Transcontinental Phone Call
The Panama–Pacific International Exposition is a world’s fair that will be held in San Francisco between February 20 and December 4 in 1915. It will celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal and will be held in conjunction with the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. Already events have taken place that highlight this upcoming world’s fair. Columbia Records have recorded songs to be sold for the Red Cross in Europe at the fair as souvenirs and movies have been released commemorating the celebration in San Francisco and San Diego.
The original long distance telephone network actually started in 1885, in New York City. By 1892 this line reached Chicago. After introducing loading coils in 1899, the long distance line continued west, and by 1911 it reached Denver, Colorado. In June 1914, after affixing 4,750 miles of telephone line, workers raised the final pole at Wendover, Utah, actually on the border between Nevada and Utah state lines. Then, Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T, succeeded in transmitting his voice across the continental U.S. in July 1914. This was actually the first transcontinental telephone call.
On January 25, 1915, in an elaborate publicity stunt designed by The American Telegraph and Telephone Company to benefit the Panama-Pacific Exposition and encourage the use of it’s new long distance service, early telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell, in New York City, repeated his famous statement “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you,” into an exact duplicate of the telephone made for him by Thomas A Watson in 1875. On the other end is his former assisatnt Mr. Watson at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition fair site in San Francisco, for a long distance call of 3,400 miles. Watson replied, “It will take me five days to get there now!” The call also included U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, in the White House, and the president of AT&T, Theodore Vail in Georgia. Although not actually “the first trans-continental phone call”, the event was heralded in the press and commemorated in song.
“Hello, Frisco!” by Baritone Reinald Werrenrath & Soprano Olive Kline(1915)