THE TELEPHONE IN HAWAII - 1911 By J. A. Balch, Vice-President Mutual Telephone Company The ideal and up-to-date telephone system of Honolulu, on the Island of Oahu, is the outgrowth of a system begun years ago, and when one takes into consideration the location of the Islands and the very common belief that the inhabitants are barbarous and even cannibalistic, its history is both wonderful and interesting. Honolulu was among the first cities of the world to take up the telephone practically, and as far back as the year 1880 it is to be noted that it had more telephones than any other city of the same size in the world. The honor of introducing the telephone in the Islands belongs to Senator Charles H. Dickey, who brought a set of instruments to Maui and used them there; this was in the early part of 1878, barely two years after the original patent had been granted to Alexander Graham Bell. And in the latter part of the same year, Mr. S. G. Wilder, Minister of the Interior, installed a set of instruments connecting the government building in Honolulu with the office of his lumber business some distance away. The practicability of the telephone thus being demonstrated, King Kalakaua purchased telephones for the Palace and had them in operation for some time, these instruments being on exhibition at the Bishop Museum at the present time. In the year 1879 the first telephone company was organized and incorporated under the name of "The Hawaiian Bell Telephone Co.," and on December 30, 1880, began giving service in the City of Honolulu. Starting with thirty instruments in operation, this number was considered at the time to be satisfactory, or enough for all time to come; but in this they were mistaken, for the number has always been steadily on the increase. The first officers of the company were: H. A. Wideman, president; S. G. Wilder, vice-president; C. O. Berger, secretary and treasurer; John H. Paty, auditor, and E. P. Adams representative of the American shareholders. The system was installed by Mr. John Cassidy, who was also the first superintendent, coming from the coast after having completed the installation of a system at San Francisco. The telephone business was a success from the start and was known all over the world. People came from everywhere to see it work, and were amazed. The original investment of the shareholders was $6,000, of which $4,900 was subscribed locally, the remainder being held by the Oriental Bell Telephone Co. During the first two years of its operation a profit of 600 per cent. was made on the investment; this was considered by the local people as too good a thing to be shared by outsiders, so in May of the year 1883 a rival company was organized, and a charter secured in August of the same year. A new plant was built, and in March, 1885, began operation under the name of "The Mutual Telephone Co.," starting with one hundred subscribers and the following officers: H. A. Wideman, president; H. Waterhouse, vice-president; directors, J. A. Hopper, W. G. Irwin, J. H. Paty, A. Jaeger, and A. J. Cartwright. The installation of The Mutual Telephone Co.'s plant made Honolulu one of the first, if not the first, city in the world to have a dual telephone system. The fight was on for ten years, until August 2, 1894, when the consolidation of the two companies was effected by The Mutual Telephone Co. acquiring the control of The Hawaiian Bell. At this time the Bell Co. was capitalized at $50,000, and had 565 telephones in operation. The Mutual Telephone Co. had $79,000 worth of stock, and was giving service to 701 subscribers. The principal feature of this amalgamation was that The Bell Co. was to receive $60,000 worth of The Mutual Telephone Co.'s stock for their entire property, and The Mutual Telephone Co.'s stock was to be increased to $150,000. The Mutual Co. had 900 telephones in operation, the difference between these 900 and the 1266 operated by the two companies before they were united being the duplicate instruments not used after the consolidation. The switchboards used by these companies were numerous and varied. The "Law System" was first installed by both companies, and these were changed several times on account of fires, and on account of changes in apparatus due to the rapid development of improvements in methods of operating. But under one form or another the old Law Systems continued in use until 1899, when a change was made to "The Sabin Express System," which was in service until August, 1907, this giving way to the latest Western Electric, common battery, lamp signal, full multiple switchboard. This board was operated about three years, when new capital purchased the controlling interest in the company, which was reorganized and consolidated with "The Hawaiian Telephone and Telegraph Co.," August 2, 1909. This telegraph company was doing a wireless business with ships at sea, and with the other islands in the group, claiming the distinction of being the first paying wireless telegraph company handling a commercial business. Owing to the mixed character of the population, and the different languages in use on the islands, it was with difficulty that good telephone service could be given, so to obviate this difficulty it was decided, after going carefully into the matter, to install an Automatic System, and at the same time to rebuild the entire plant. At this time there were in operation approximately 1800 instruments, and work was begun on the new plant in August, 1909, and completed during the following year, the Automatic System starting operation August 28, 1910. Today the company owns two exchange buildings, one of which .--the Alain Exchange and General Offices--is situated in Honolulu, on Adams lane, and is a two-story and high basement building built of brick, steel and concrete, and absolutely fireproof. The basement is used as a storeroom and workshop, the first floor occupied by the telephone and wireless telegraph executive offices, and the top floor by the automatic switches, distributing frame, information desks, etc. The other office, situated at Waipahu, is a six-room frame structure, occupied by the switchboard and other apparatus, and also providing living rooms for the man in charge of the country system. The switchboard in use in Honolulu is a two-wire, common battery, individual first-selector system of the latest design, and was built and installed by the Automatic Electric Co., of Chicago. The outside plant is an all-cable plant, the greater portion of which is underground. The service, or drop wires, are short and insulated, for the most part going from the cable terminal pole directly to the subscribers' station. The service given is admitted by all to be ideal, the average number of complaints being about ten per day. Approximately 3600 telephones are being operated in all classes of the service, comprising individual lines, party lines, private branch exchanges, coin collectors, meters, intercommunicating systems, private lines, etc., etc. During the fourteen months of the operation of the automatic system there has been an increase of 1800 telephones, or the plant has just doubled in size, and is growing daily. The ingenuity of the operating force is being taxed to provide service for every one demanding it, and no better indication of the steady growth of the City of Honolulu could be had. The country plant, with its exchange located at Waipahu, fifteen miles from Honolulu, is a magneto system, with two hundred telephones working as party lines on metallic circuits, and these circuits phantomed. All lines are properly transposed, and are of all lengths up to seventy miles, running over mountains, plains, gulches, plantations, and at places making sheer drops of hundreds of feet. It has people of many nationalities for patrons, natives, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Spaniards, and many others. Connections are made between the Honolulu and Waipahu Exchanges over No. 10 B. & S. copper trunk lines. The Honolulu subscriber reaches the Waipahu Exchange by calling direct with his automatic telephone, and the country subscriber is connected automatically with a Honolulu party by the operator at Waipahu. For this service a toll is charged for all completed connections, the service being rapid, and an ideal talk is to be had to any part of the Island of Oahu. With the telephone service the Honolulans and Oahuans are pleased, and well they may be, for no better service is given in any land, and the wireless service to ships at sea and between its five stations on the other islands has no comparison for quickness of despatch or its accuracy. History from OldCompany.com (old stock certificate research service) and WWI Liberty Bonds Buyer.