How Everything Works
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Question 570

Who invented the telephone dial or rotary portion of the telephone? — B, R, B, D, and S at Northlake Elementary, Richardson, TX
Let me start a little earlier, with the automatic telephone exchange: This exchange was invented in 1892 by Alman B. Strowger, an undertaker from Kansas, who first installed it in La Poste, Indiana. The system used electromagnetic relays to recognized a series of pulses and to make the appropriate connections between telephones. While the "Strowger system" remained in use until the advent of modern electronic switching systems, it was improved many times. The pulses that controlled this system were originally made with push buttons and one of the most important improvements was to replace the push buttons with a rotary dial that created the pulses automatically. However, the rotary dial wasn't so much invented as developed and I haven't found any record of the individuals who contributed to that development. No doubt it's a patented device and the patent record probably includes the names of the people responsible. If I can find that patent, I'll add it here.

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