Sinclair line selector automatic switch board (glass broken and incomplete) with step-by-step sending instrument and separate bell, patented by Dane Sinclair, probably made by the National Telephone Company, British, 1886.
This was the first attempt at an automatic telephone exchange in Great Britain. It was invented by Dane Sinclair, an engineer at the National Telephone Company in Scotland, and was used in one of their exchanges installed at Coatbridge, near Glasgow, in 1886, six years before the first automatic exchange was set up in the USA in 1892. The exchange had up to six subscribers, and the automatic switchboard removed the need for an operator at the branch level exchange (the exchange to connect the six subscriber lines to each other). Connections at the central exchange (to other branch networks) still required an operator. It functioned using electro-magnets and clockwork mechanisms.
- Object Number:
automatic switchboard: 146 mm x 372 mm x 480 mm, 14 kg
step-by-step sending instrument: 140 mm x 219 mm x 219 mm, 4.15 kg
bell: 33 mm 61 mm, .09 kg
- component - object
- Donated by the General Post Office
- Permanent collection
Cite this page
We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.
Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero
Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence
Download catalogue entry as json
Download manifest IIIF
Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.