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 "I should think," commented Laurie one day, when Ted and Mr. Hazen were sitting in his room, "that Mr. Bell's landlady would have fussed no end to have his telephone ringing all the time."  
"My dear boy, you do not for an instant suppose that the telephones of that period had bells, do you?" replied Mr. Hazen with amusement. "No, indeed! There was no method for signaling. Unless two persons agreed to talk at a specified hour of the day or night and timed their conversation by the clock, or else had recourse to the Morse code, there was no satisfactory way they could call one another. This did not greatly matter when you recollect how few telephones there were in existence. Mr. Williams used to summon a listener by tapping on the metal diaphragm of the instrument with his pencil, a practice none too beneficial to the transmitter; nor was the resulting sound powerful enough to reach any one who was not close at hand. Furthermore, persons could not stand and hold their telephones and wait until they could arouse the party at the other end of the line for a telephone weighed almost ten pounds and——"
"Ten pounds!" repeated Ted in consternation.
Mr. Hazen nodded.
"Yes," answered he, "the early telephones were heavy, cumbersome objects and not at all like the trim, compact instruments we have to-day. In fact, they were quite similar to the top of a sewing-machine box, only, perhaps, they were a trifle smaller. You can understand that one would not care to carry on a very long conversation if he must in the meantime stand and hold in his arms a ten-pound object about ten inches long, six inches wide, and six inches high."
"I should say not!" Laurie returned. "It must have acted as a fine check, though, on people who just wanted to gabble."
Both Ted and the tutor laughed.
"Of course telephone owners could not go on that way," Ted said, after the merriment had subsided. "What did Mr. Bell do about it?"
"The initial step for betterment was not taken by Mr. Bell but by Mr. Watson," Mr. Hazen responded. "He rigged a little hammer inside the box and afterwards put a button on the outside. This thumper was the first calling device ever in use. Later on, however, the assistant felt he could improve on this method and he adapted the buzzer of the harmonic telegraph to the telephone; this proved to be a distinct advance over the more primitive thumper but nevertheless he was not satisfied with it as a signaling apparatus. So he searched farther still, and with the aid of one of the shabby little books on electricity that he had purchased for a quarter from Williams's tiny showcase, he evolved the magneto-electric call bell such as we use to-day. This answered every purpose and nothing has ever been found that has supplanted it. It is something of a pity that Watson did not think to affix his name to this invention; but he was too deeply interested in what he was doing and probably too busy to consider its value. His one idea was to help Mr. Bell to improve the telephone in every way possible and measuring what he was going to get out of it was apparently very far from his thought. Of course, the first of these call bells were not perfect, any more than were the first telephones; by and by, however, their defects were remedied until they became entirely satisfactory."
"So they now had telephones, transmitters, and call bells," reflected Ted. "I should say they were pretty well ready for business."
"You forget the switchboard," was Mr. Hazen's retort. "A one-party line was a luxury and a thing practically beyond the reach of the public. At best there were very few of them. No, some method for connecting parties who wished to speak to one another had to be found and it is at this juncture of the telephone's career that a new contributor to the invention's success comes upon the scene.
"Doing business at Number 342 Washington Street was a young New Yorker by the name of Edwin T. Holmes, who had charge of his father's burglar-alarm office. As all the electrical equipment he used was made at Williams's shop, he used frequently to go there and one day, when he entered, he came upon Charles Williams, the proprietor of the store, standing before a little box that rested on a shelf and shouting into it. Hearing Mr. Holmes's step, he glanced over his shoulder, met his visitor's astonished gaze, and laughed.
"'For Heaven's sake, Williams, what have you got in that box?' demanded Mr. Holmes.
"'Oh, this is what that fellow out there by Watson's bench, Mr. Bell, calls a telephone,' replied Mr. Williams.
"'So that's the thing I have seen squibs in the paper about!' observed the burglar-alarm man with curiosity.
"'Yes, he and Watson have been working at it for some time.'
"Now Mr. Holmes knew Tom Watson well for the young electrician had done a great deal of work for him in the past; moreover, the New York man was a person who kept well abreast of the times and was always alert for novel ideas. Therefore quite naturally he became interested in the embryo enterprise and dropped into Williams's shop almost every day to see how the infant invention was progressing. In this way he met both Mr. Gardiner Hubbard and Mr. Thomas Saunders, who were Mr. Bell's financial sponsors. After Mr. Holmes had been a spectator of the telephone for some time, he remarked to Mr. Hubbard:
"'If you succeed in getting two or three of those things to work and will lend them to me, I will show them to Boston.'
"'Show them to Boston,' repeated Mr. Hubbard. 'How will you do that?'
"'Well,' said Mr. Holmes, 'I have a Central Office down at Number 342 Washington Street from which I have individual wires running to most of the banks, many jeweler's shops, and other stores. I can ring a bell in a bank from my office and the bank can ring one to me in return. By using switches and giving a prearranged signal to the Exchange Bank, both of us could throw a switch which would put the telephones in circuit and we could talk together.'
"After looking at Mr. Holmes for a moment with great surprise, Mr. Hubbard slapped him on the back and said, 'I will do it! Get your switches and other things ready.'
"Of course Mr. Holmes was greatly elated to be the first one to show on his wires this wonderful new instrument and connect two or more parties through a Central Office. He immediately had a switchboard made (its actual size was five by thirty-six inches) through which he ran a fe............
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