There was a time in Eureka County when rotary dial telephones did not exist. Push button phones didn’t exist either.
Many of us have never known anything but push button phones or even cell phones and smartphones, etc., as is today.
However, there was a time when even rotary dial phones were not around.
Eureka stepped into the modern dial phone age at midnight on Feb. 12, 1949.
Prior to that, people had to go through the local operator and hear them ask, “Number please,” then give the prefix name and number such as Congress-5555.
But with the new dial system, all the person needed to do was dial the prefix number, i.e., 237 and the number of the desired person or business, 237-5555. It was the same seven digit system we use today. Long distance calls did still require a swtich board operator.
AT&T and Bell Telephone had developed the area code system in 1947, but it would take a while to reach Eureka County.
The Eureka Sentinel carried the story in the Feb. 12 issue. “At this hour [midnight] workman put into service the equipment installed in the new central office building located at the south end of town and Eureka was connected with Ely and the outside world.
Everything went off without a hitch and numerous phone customers sent many calls outside of Eureka.
The new dial system culminates months of preparedness by the telephone company. To date, approximately 130 phones have been installed by the telephone company.”
The article continued, “On Thursday, Feb. 10 an open house was held at the new dial office and approximately 300 Eureka residents including high school and grammar school students at intervals visited and inspected the new dial equipment and listened to interesting explanations by switchman John Torgeason.”
No longer would people have to call the local switchboard operator and ask for a local number and have the patch made, now a person could dial direct from their own home, office, or business.
The Sentinel concluded, “Eureka residents extend congratulations to the Bell Telephone Company of Nevada and its personnel for the excellent telephone service Eureka is now enjoying.”
It is interesting to note though, during much of the remainder of 1949, Bell Telephone of Nevada continued to place advertisements in the Sentinel with pictures of switchboard operators, not rotary dial phones.