Profile America: First Transcontinental Phone Call

Friday, January 25th. 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 around $517 today.

Over 98 percent of America’s households have phone service. Landline and cellular services combined cost these households an average of $1,356 per year.

Profile America is in its 22nd year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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