unwired Landline

Wires are visible where a public pay phone once stood along Smithfield Street in Downtown Pittsburgh.

One Response to “Landline”

  1. This telegraph was practical, and was actually brought into commercial service in 1838 beside the equally new Great Western Railway from Paddington to West Drayton, and eventually to Slough. The buried conductors, however, proved very expensive and troublesome. Although the early experimenters had used aerial lines with complete success, both the Cooke and the Morse telegraphs were introduced with buried conductors. The reason for this was not only to remove unsightly wires from public view, but also as an aid to security from physical damage or malicious interference. At Isambard Brunel’s suggestion, the Cooke and Wheatstone line from Paddington to Slough was placed in iron pipe. However, the insulating materials of the day deteriorated rapidly under the conditions of burial, and lines soon became leaky and useless. Very soon, all telegraph lines were bare wire supported on insulators in pole lines. It was really not possible to make good buried cables until the introduction of gutta-percha insulation around 1847. Gutta-percha, a relative of rubber but not elastic, deteriorates rapidly when exposed to air and light.

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