Bell Telephone Report 1956

This Annual Report from the American Telephone and Telegraph Company is just brimming with optimism for all the wonders and joys telecommunications will bring.  The booklet is partly a boring financial statement from the Bell System, and partly a fun tour through a new technology that was changing daily life for all Americans at breakneck speed.

The most interesting section is the “Report for Shareholders” where a family is profiled, spotlighting how the progress in telecommunications has affected them.

“This page and the next show how the Arhur W. Drews family of South Milwaukee use their telephone services.  It’s a far cry from having one telephone in the hall? And each month, each year, more families are getting complete service to suit their personal needs, just as Mr. and Mrs. Drews and their sons enjoy the service pictured here.”

“In bedroom shared by sons Collen 15 and Johnny 13, the family enjoys weekly long distance call from eldest son Tom at college in Colorado.” 
“Mrs. Drews in her kitchen likes the convenience of a wall telephone by the stove.  She says ‘We’ve made the telephone a part of the way we live.'”
Mr. Drews heads the music department at South Milwaukee High School.  He is also a police and fire commissioner.  At his bedroom phone (which as a dial light) he arranges concert details, talks with students, makes appointments, keeps in touch with his associates and friends.”
“No extra steps for Mrs. Drews when she does the laundry: her basement telephone is right at hand.
Collen and John discuss homework with friends.
“The boys also have a newspaper route.  They phone every day to get the exact number of papers they will need.  This gives new customers prompt service, also eliminates need to return unsold papers.”
“And here is Tom Drews 20, at the other end of the line at Colorado University.”

Moving along, we get a look at the technology sweeping the nation…

“In South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Edward F. Voorde dials the first call at a ceremony marking the start of direct dialing in that city.”

“The nation at your fingertips: Some 2,700,000 telephone users can now dial directly to millions of other telephones across the nation.  This is a five -fold increase over a year ago.”

“In Stamford, Connecticut, telephone men cut into service the new direct dialing equipment there.”
“Forming telephone cable in a Western Electric plant.”
“With split-second timing, telephone men in many different cities switch television programs carried over the Bell System network.”


    • Yeah – kids’ rooms in those days were so dull – gaudy wallpaper and maybe a small framed picture of a clown. Give it a couple of decades and they’d be plastered with Judas Priest posters.


  1. I don’t care what old people say, the Bell System was something you wouldn’t get once in a thousand tries. It may be for the best that it is gone, but it deserves a good place in history.


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