Profile America: First Transcontinental Phone Call

First TelephoneWednesday, January 25 — On this date in 1915, east and west were linked by voice in the first transcontinental phone call. This event was a conference call involving Alexander Graham Bell in New York, his assistant Thomas Watson in San Francisco, President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, and the president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in Georgia. Using the new commercial service was a major financial commitment. The charge for a three-minute call from New York to San Francisco started at $20.70. That’s nearly $495 today. Nearly 98 percent of America’s households have phone service. Landline and cellular services combined cost these households an average of $1,347 per year. The cellular service cost alone is $1,023.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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