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TODAY IN HISTORY

    TELEPHONE SWITCHBOARD
    January 17, 1882 - Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

    A telephone switchboard was issued a U.S. patent to Leroy Firman of Chicago, Illinois (No. 252,576), which was assigned to the Western Electric Manufacturing Co. Also of Chicago. With his invention of a “multiple switchboard for telephone exchanges,” Firman addressed the problem of increasing numbers of subscribers. Previously, single switchboards, each with an attendant, served their group of individual lines. A large exchange was thus divided up into a number of internal exchange switchboards which were worked together as necessary, with trunk lines between the boards. Firman devised an arrangement to handle an exchange of a thousand or more subscribers with line status information exchanged between switchmen.

    PUNCHBOARDS
    January 17, 1905 - Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

    The first U.S. patent was issued for a punchboard to Charles A. Brewer and Clinton G. Scannell of Chicago, Illinois, described as “vending devices.” They were manufactured by Charles A. Brewer & Sons in the same city. (No. 780,086). Even though the equivalent of punchboards had been around for many years, they had never been available in such a neat and portable form. The invention of board stuffing machines and ticket folding and plaiting machines in the late 1910s was probably the key factor which allowed the punchboard industry to flourish. Once the boards became cheap to manufacture, they flooded the country. Noted gambling author John Scarne estimates that 30 million punchboards were sold in 1910-15.

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