March 1957 Radio & Television News
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio &
Television News, published 1919 - 1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Alaska and Hawaii were added
to the Union as the 49th and 50th states, respectively, in 1959. Prior to that time, both were referred to as possessions
or territories. This story from a 1957 edition of Radio & Television News refers to Bell Telephone
Systems and the U.S. Army Signal Corps laying the first cable for opening commercial telephone service between Port
Angeles (near Seattle), Washington, and Ketchikan, Territory of Alaska. The 900 mile, submarine cable carried 36
circuits, and took 2 years to install at a cost of $20 million ($166 million in 2014 money). Work conditions for
crews were nowhere near as accommodating or protected against accidents as they are today. As with so many things,
our forebears sacrificed life and limb, literally, to bring us to the comfortable existence we enjoy today. The
men in these and other vintage photos I post deserve your gratitude.
Alaska Telephone Cable Opened for Use
Underwater cable handles 36 conversations at once, provides added circuits for public and defense needs.
Beach landing of cable at Skagway, Alaska. The cable from the bow of the cable ship Albert J. Myer, in background,
is supported by means of drums and balloons.
The U. S. Army Signal Corps and the Bell Telephone System opened to public service a new and important communications
link between the United States and the growing Territory of Alaska. The link consists of an underwater telephone
cable system stretching some 1250 miles from Port Angeles, Washington, to Skagway, Alaska.
The cable system represents two major projects, costing a. total of 20 million dollars - one provided by the
Long Lines Dept. of A. T. & T.; the other by the Alaska Communication System, which is operated by the Signal
Corps. The A. T. & T. cable system extends from Port Angeles to Ketchikan, Alaska, a distance of about 900 miles.
Twin cables, containing built-in amplifiers, lie in the ocean depths off the coast between the two points. These
cables were placed by the cable ship Albert J. Myer late last year.
The ACS cable, which covers the 400 miles between Ketchikan and the Skagway, is a single submarine cable stretching
along the inland waterway on the southern coast of Alaska. This cable utilizes amplifying stations that are located
on islands or points of land that dot that area.
Map shows route of new telephone cable. Total length is about 1250 statute miles.
From Port Angeles, the southern terminal, the cable circuits are connected to the U. S. network at Seattle by
a radio relay link recently constructed by the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co. At the northern end, beyond Skagway,
the circuits are fed into the Alaska communications network, operated by ACS.
The system took over two years to build. It can carry 36 conversations at one time and will be used to supplement
the radiotelephone and land line facilities that have been operating between the States and Alaska since 1937. The
new cable system will more than double the capacity of present radio and land line circuits.
Men loading cable into one of four vast storage tanks
below deck of the cable ship.
Posted February 25, 2014