Today in NC State History: First telephone exchange installed

October 24, 2012
By Bill Krueger

PrintEveryone on campus these days has a telephone, and chances are it can also send and receive text messages and emails, scan the Internet, play video games and take pictures. It is a basic part of campus life.

Of course that wasn’t always the case. On this day in 1924, Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company installed the first telephone exchange (or switchboard) at what was then known as State College.

A photograph (below) found at Historical State, an online archive maintained by NCSU Libraries, shows an operator working at an early telephone exchange at the university in 1939. According to Historical State, the exchange handled an average of 300 calls per hour during weekday mornings when school was in session.

telephone-exchange1So we wondered how that would compare to the phone traffic at NC State these days. As we noted, thousands of calls and texts are sent from personal cell phones on campus each day that the university cannot track.

But we checked with the folks at the university’s Office of Information Technology. They told us that on Sept. 10, the university handled 13,686 phone calls on land lines, or about 1,711 calls per hour over an eight-hour workday.

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