Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/53

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

'telephone engineer.' That is why Mr. Coy had not only to plan his own central exchange system, but also to devise the necessary switching mechanism for his central office.

Confiding his plan to his friend, Herrick P. Frost, the latter agreed to assist Mr. Coy. Not that Mr. Frost knew aught about the telephone or telegraph, but because he wanted to make a place for his son, then about sixteen. Neither Coy nor Frost could spare the funds necessary to build the exchange system, so Mr. Frost borrowed six hundred dollars from his brother-in-law, Walter Lewis, organized the New Haven District Telephone Company, secured a charter, and issued capital stock having a par value of five thousand dollars. Of this amount Coy and Frost subscribed for $2,000 each and $1,000 was transferred in November, 1877, to the parent Bell company for a license granting the exclusive right to use Bell telephones in the counties of New Haven and Middlesex, in Connecticut. Mr. Coy states that later this block of stock given to the Bell Company was repurchased by the treasurer of the company for two hundred dollars in cash.

By virtue of his services as the good angel so essential in pioneer undertakings, Walter Lewis was elected to the presidency of the company, Mr. Frost was made treasurer and Mr. Coy filled all the other offices. Morris F. Tyler was the company's attorney, secured its charter, obtained the necessary additional loans to enable extensions and improvements to be made, took his pay in stock, and later became the head of the organization. Incidentally it may be added that on May 31, 1878, Mr. Frost secured exclusive licenses to use telephones under Bell patents for the term of ten years, in the cities of New Haven, Hartford, Meriden, Middletown and New Britain, in Connecticut, and of Springfield in Massachusetts, subject to his leasing not less than five hundred telephones the first year, and expending not less than $8,000, including the amount already expended in New Haven.

Being ready to proceed with the installation of its 'telephone-call system,' Mr. Coy mailed to the prominent citizens of New Haven a thousand copies of a circular describing the many advantages the system would offer, and earnestly requesting subscriptions for the service. It was expected that at least fifty replies would be received, but only one subscription was obtained, and to the late Rev. John E. Todd, pastor of the Church of the Redeemer, belongs the honor of being the first person in the world to subscribe for the service of a commercial telephone exchange system. Quite rightfully Mr. Todd's name headed the first list of telephone subscribers ever issued.

So complete a failure to arouse public interest in the telephone system was a bitter disappointment to Mr. Coy. But being a born hustler, he immediately sent out a competent canvasser to solicit contracts. This agent succeeded in ultimately securing over two hundred