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Not Now

The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954

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J. W. Beretta, president of the First National Bank of San
Antonio, has recently furnished this office with information
regarding what was probably the first telephone in Texas, one
installed by Colonel George W. Brackenridge about 1873. Beretta
says further that the old Gray's Printer, which was first used to
transmit the messages, has been preserved and is on display in
the bank museum in San Antonio. As a further substantiation
of the claim, he enclosed a photostatic copy of the San Antonio
Daily Express for June 11, 1893, in which Colonel Brackenridge
is quoted as saying:
I can not give the exact date of the establishment of the line, but
it was about twenty years ago. The wire was strung on poles from
the bank to my residence, the route being by way of the government
buildings. The first method of communication used was Gray's print-
ing telegraph, which I think is still in use in some parts of the
country. This system had at that time just been invented and it
worked very successfully. The message was received in printed form
and the line was easily operated. A short time after it had been
established a young gentleman down here from the north exhibited
a pair of receivers which I obtained from him and placed one at
each end of the line. These receivers were used both to talk into and
hear through and I can say candidly that the line worked better and
one could hear plainer than with the present perfected system of
telephones. ... After putting on the receivers I used the common
telegraph key to make the calls, the bells not having yet come into
use. Of course the line was a great novelty at that time, not only
to people in this city, but also to visitors from New York, Boston and
other eastern cities. The only confusion that ever occurred then was
when the persons at each end of the line tried to talk at the same
time. A great many laughable incidents occurred, and it was hard
for one not used to the line to realize that they could carry on a
conversation with a second party a distance of four miles. I used the
old system until the call bells and other improvements now in use
on modern telephones were invented and was the first to adopt them
in San Antonio. When these improvements came into use I put in
a line to the water works. The original line to my residence was
replaced by a new and more direct one in 1877.
The Handbook of Texas, in agreement with a good many other

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 30, 2016.

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