Telephone switchboard cords and ‘CORD’

Aug. 18, 2017
by Mark Ollig

“Hello, Operator.”

“Operator, can you connect me with 2113, please?”

In the early days of a small town telephone company, it was common for the switchboard operator to be asked questions when folks heard church bells ringing; “Who died?” or, when hearing the fire siren; “Where’s the fire?”

During the 1930s and ‘40s, a store owner leaving their shop routinely asked the telephone company switchboard operator to forward their calls to where they would be located.

Dedicated operators “worked the board” day and night, connecting telephone calls.

One cord on the switchboard would connect to the originating subscriber’s circular terminal jack, while its associated cord was plugged into the correct terminating phone line, completing the circuit connection. The operator rang the called phone using a toggle ring-key.

For a call outside the local telephone exchange service area, a cord would be patched into an out-of-exchange telephone trunk line which connected to another switchboard in the next town.

Back then, the outside telephone lines commonly used galvanized steel wires separated via glass insulators. The insulators were screwed onto wooden arm brackets attached to telephone poles.

These steel wires served as the talking path to the far-end terminating telephone company central office switchboard.

The far-end switchboard operator would complete the circuit by connecting the originating caller to the desired called party.

Those switchboard cords completed the circuit connection folks used to talk with each other over the phone.

Today, many of the cord/circuit connections are using software paths inside very sophisticated VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) switching platforms operating within interconnected data servers within the cloud.

The internet’s analogy with the word “cloud,” is said to have originated during the early days of computer-to-computer networking design. As more computers became interconnected, their topology formed a cloud shape.

Being there are so many computer-server networking interconnections over the internet; a puffy cloud is used as the symbol representing the data, video, and voice flowing through it.

So, is a switchboard “cord” now a nostalgically remembered word from days gone by?

Ladies and gentleman, I can happily report: the “cord” is back!

No, we’re not going back to the days of switchboard operators.

CORD is being used as modern day, high-tech acronym.

CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) is a combination of a Software Defined Network (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) technologies.

SDN and NFV are used to enhance telecommunications performance and reliable infrastructure within the cloud environment.

CORD, located at http://opencord.org, is an organization promoting central telecommunication office efficiency, and states their mission is “to bring datacenter economies and cloud agility to service providers for their residential, enterprise, and mobile customers.”

CORD is an open source project wishing to become an active participant within the service provider cloud community.

One example of CORD’s involvement is with a cloud benefit called -SaaS (Software as a Service).

The image logo for CORD is telephone switchboard cords.

This logo appears to represent the bridging of past cordboard/switchboard technology with today and tomorrows telephone central office cloud-based switching.

Back in the day, yours truly worked on telephone cordboards operating in a few of the businesses in my hometown; usually I found myself replacing patch cords which had worn out.

My mother and grandmother were telephone switchboard operators, as was my father and his father, who occasionally worked the board.

The Winsted Telephone Company office and switchboard was located in the building (no longer there) which later housed the Klip & Kurl Salon (next to the Pantry Restaurant).

In 1949, Winsted Telephone Company installed a Wilcox Electric telephone switching system (dialboard). This allowed its subscribers to use a rotary dial telephone for making calls without having to signal the switchboard operator.

Plug your virtual switchboard cord into the cloud and connect with @bitsandbytes on Twitter.

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