Calif. Families McBride Arthur Thomas & Elva Telephone Connection
last updated 2 Feb 2019

Several members of our family have had jobs with the telephone company.
Thomas (Sandy) worked on the farmer lines in Antelope, Wesley was a network engineer for Pacific Bell and Don worked on software systems at Bell Labs, the R&D arm of the old AT&T.
See Telephone Companies History
Our careers spanned a range of transmission medium from barbed wire to fiber optics.
Actually the family connection with communications started in 1844 when Samuel Finley Breese Morse our 8th cousin 2 times removed, patented the first commercially viable telegraph system and invented the Morse Code.
The American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) was formed from the merger of Morse's telegraph technology and Alexander Graham Bell's (another Scot's) telephone technology.
See "How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It"by Arthur Herman, 2002.

In a 2016 shoot out on the Jay Leno show our cousins 170 year old communication technology proved to be faster than current technology.
See two ham radio operators using Morris code with telegraph keys against two guys using texting on their smart phones. Video

Antelope Farmer Lines:
Thomas (Sandy) managed the Farmer Lines in Antelope.
It would have been too expensive to pay the Roseville Telephone Company to install and manage lines out to farms spread out in Antelope.
The Roseville Telephone Company, an independent company run by the Doyle family, was not associated with Pacific Bell, which was part of the Bell System under the original American Telephone and Telegraph company (AT&T) which covered most of the country.

During the war (WW II) wire and other metal products were dedicated to the war effort. So, barbed wire fences were used as transmission lines.
Some lines were on poles, so Sandy had some climbing irons and a climbing belt which we still have at the cabin and have used for tree trimming.

A majority of Bell System subscribers in the mid-20th century were serviced by party line service, so up to 20 people could be connected to one pair of wires. Private lines were expensive.
Every household had phone # with an exchange name and a one letter code e.g. Antelope-M.
People had magneto phones, where you turned a crank to generate ringing voltage which caused everyones phone to ring.
A ring code was sent to everyone on the line and you knew the call was for you based on the Morse code for your letter e.g. 2 long rings for M. Of course everyone could listen to others conversations. See Telecommunications Technology History at
The line was connected to a Roseville Telephone Switchboard operator who you could contact to make a call to Roseville or long distance.

Northern California Outside Plant Engineering:
Wesley was a network engineer for the Northern California Region of what was then Pacific Telephone, now AT&T.

Telephone cable was expensive to manufacture and install.
The outside plant was designed to minimize cost over the long run and maximize flexibility to handle future growth.
The Central Office contained a switch which replaced the switchboard operators to connect calls in your local area or send the call over trunks to a hierarchal network of switches which connected the whole country and eventually the world.

Bell System Software:
In the 90's Don worked at Bellcore, the software division of Bell Labs spun off at the breakup of the Bell System in 1984. with a team designing a new Planning and Engineering Software System, that would automate much of the work and eliminate much of the paper involved in Wesley's job. It included provisions for fiber optic networks which were the future of voice and data transmission.
Below is a HIPO (Hierarchical Input Process Output) diagram for the initial design we put into a computer-aided software engineering system. This was just to show all the functions and communication between functions. It was still a long way from software which would run.

We had people who did Wesley's job giving us input on how the process worked.
I suspect if you could diagram the connections in Westley's brain used to do his job it would look like this. Most boxes in the diagram had other complex functions within them.

In 2007 Verizon pulled fiber thru a conduit to Don's house, which provided phone, Internet and TV service. Don buried the conduit from his basement to the street for that purpose when they built their home in 1990.

More Information:
Telephone Companies History
Telecommunications Technology History
Roseville California Telephone Museum

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