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Alaska Telephone Cable Opened for Use
March 1957 Radio & Television News

March 1957 Radio & Television News

March 1957 Radio & Television News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

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 ($192 million in 2021 money per the BLS). 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.

Alaska Telephone Cable Opened for Use, March 1957 Radio & Television News - RF Cafe

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.

Map shows route of new telephone cable - RF Cafe

Map shows route of new telephone cable. Total length is about 1250 statute miles.

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.

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.


en loading cable into one of four vast storage tanks - RF Cafe

Men loading cable into one of four vast storage tanks below deck of the cable ship.



Posted June 1, 2021
(updated from original post on 2/25/2014)

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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