Way before rotary dials or even party lines: The History of Telephones in Buffalo

By Steve Cichon

Thirty-five years ago this week, The News began celebrating the 100th anniversary of the paper’s starting a daily edition.

In the special section called One Hundred Years of Finance and Commerce, The News recounted the history of a handful of Buffalo’s financial and commercial industries and provided ad space for many companies involved in those industries to tout their own contributions.

In 2015, if we think at all about “the old days” and telephones, perhaps we think of phones that were actually wired to the wall. Or, saints preserve us, the tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat of the rotary dial.

And in 2015, it’s a bit difficult to fathom that for most of the history of the telephone, you picked up a receiver and spoke with an operator.  Of course 35 years ago, there were plenty more people who remembered those days … and that’s what this piece is about.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.