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Almon Brown Strowger

The concept of telephones, being able to speak directly to a distant person via electrical wires, became established in the 1870s. Originally, you would lift your handset, speak to the operator and request to be connected to the person you wished to speak to, and then the operator would manually connect you.

Almon Strowger was an undertaker in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1890 he became convinced that he was losing business to a competitor because his local telephone operator was the competitor's wife and Stowger believed she was wrongly diverting his calls.

He therefore set about inventing an automatic switch so a caller could be directly connected to the other party without the operator being involved. His patent for the Strowger Switch was registerd on 10th March 1891 and became the universal method of automating telephone exchanges right up to the 1970s.

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