Saturday, 10 November 2012

Sepia Saturday 151 - telephone operator

Just a few minutes between raking up the autumn leaves to participate in this week's Sepia Saturday. I have managed to stay on theme this week, although my telephone operator picture is nowhere near as spectacular as the one Alan posted. This first picture is from an article in the January 1957 edition of Trains Illustrated called "The American Train Dispatcher".

An American Traffic controller at his telephone desk, c.1956

And although not strictly on the telephone theme, the second picture does have a lot to do with communication, so kind of linked. This picture is also from the January 1957 edition of Trains Illustrated and was featured in an article called "Signalling and the Modernisation plan". It's a picture of the inside of York signal box which, at the time, was the largest of its kind in the world, controlling nearly 18 miles of running lines, 5.5 miles of loop lines, with 74 running and 154 shunt signals, and 277 sets of points. Some sense of the enormity of this can be seen in the layout on the far walls. I suspect today that there are only a couple of lines here, all controlled by a microchip the size of a pinhead.

The electric route relay interlocking signal box at York

Lots more vintage magazines and vintage postcards on my web site

    

12 comments:

  1. This is so interesting, another one of those jobs that I have never heard of before. Great pictures!

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  2. York is less than 50 miles by rail from us and I've travelled through there a lot on those lines. Interesting illustrations.

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  3. So much goes on behind the scenes that I have never considered. Interesting pictures!

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  4. I wonder how stressed the American traffic control man was with his job! A great post for our telephone-theme!

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  5. They are great photographs. You are right - all those wires, controls and dials will now be replaced by a few penny-worth of microchips.

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  6. The second picture reminds me of a similar display of KLM's aircraft at Schiphol Airport. People hardly realize the domino effect caused by a delayed train. Traffic controllers had, and still have, stressful jobs!

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  7. Interesting post. I hadn't thought of the work required to route the trains. The pictures reminded me a little of the NASA control rooms.

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  8. Interesting photos! As stressful as a switchboard operator's job may have been, I'll bet the job of the men in the second photo was ten times worse.

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  9. This post really highlights the similarity between the worlds of telephones, trains, and even airplanes.

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  10. all so complicated, not an easy job at all!

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  11. That second photo is interesting; just imagine how involved it must be at N.A.S.A.! Now that's a COMMUNICATIONS arena!

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  12. @Kat
    Don't worry about NASA controllers, they have only one missile to look after... ;)

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