William von Alven, Manager, fcc part 68 Operations May 1998

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1956 -. Telco tariffs did not permit customers to add even shoulder rests, let alone noise reducing Hush-a-Phone cup over the microphone. In North Carolina, one was not permitted to place a cover on a telephone directory. (This latter issue was stricken by order of the North Carolina Supreme Court.) The Hush-a-Phone court decision was important because it permitted customer-provided equipment that a privately beneficial and not publicly harmful could be connected to the network. Hush-a-Phone permitted the use of acoustically and/or inductively coupled answering machines, such as Jordaphone, and also fax machines. Previously, AT&T permitted only Government and newspaper wire services to connect fax machines and wire photo equipment. One of the early founders of a fax manufacturing company met with Walter Gifford, President of AT&T in the early 1920s to obtain permission to connect wire line fax equipment to the network for use by newspapers. He said:

"Mr. Gifford, I believe you permit anyone to speak English over you network?"

Mr. Gifford replied, "Why, yes."

"How about foreign languages?"

"Yes, of course."

"Is it OK to whistle or to make unintelligible noises?"

"Yes, of course."

"Well, how about my fax machine? It makes a noise similar to bleep, bleep, bleep."

Mr. Gifford did not object and the news services got permission to connect their fax and wire photo equipment.

1957 - October 4, the Russians launched the first satellite, Sputnik.


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