Skip to content

VIGNETTE > Telephones

Here are some examples of American Wall Phones from the 1880s. Click to enlarge. We thank Frank Ruffino and Jan: http://theantiquephones.com/

Here are some examples of American Wall Phones from the 1880s. Click to enlarge.
These photos courtesy of Frank Ruffino and Jan : www.theantiquephones.com


In 1884, Mill Valley’s first telephone was installed at the Blithedale Hotel owned by Cushing. In1893, the second phone was installed at the Eastland home in Cascade Canyon. A switchboard was installed in a hardware store downtown. By 1902 there were 88 numbers listed in the telephone directory. By 1910 there were 329 subscribers.  The exchange had moved to a grocery store. In 1911, a telephone office was established in the west part of today’s Bank of America building with new equipment enabling subscribers to simply pick up the phone to talk with an operator—no more hand cranking. In 1908, phone numbers consisted of one, two or three digits, e.g., John Finn’s phone number was 8. By 1938 four-digit numbers appeared. By 1948 letters had been added—a typical new number was 1677-W.  The system was replaced with the prefix Dunlap followed by four digits. Tell the operator, Dunlap-1234, or dial DU8-1234, or 388-1234.  In 1949, the telephone office moved to a large building at 300 East Blithedale with ultra-modern circuitry. New prefixes ultimately replaced the final 8 in 388 with a 0, 1, 3, 4, or 9. Dialing now involves eleven digits, e.g., 1-415-388-1234.

Telephone Building built in 1949

Telephone Building built in 1949

 

Scroll To Top