1926: History of the Telephone in San Mateo County

From the Half Moon Bay Review, June 1926

“History of Telephone in County Given”

“The history of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company of Burlingame and San Mateo dates back to the year 1890 when the Sunset lines installed a switchboard in the location now occupied by the San Mateo City Hall opposite the Southern Pacific depot. Mrs. Charles Morse, wie of a San Mateo druggist, was the first agent.

“A short outline of the development of the telephone in this county has been given by J.F. Adams, local district manager.

“Shortly after the first San Mateo switchboard was installed, according to Manager Adams, a list of 14 subscribers was secured. No numbers were assigned and the calls were placed by name.

“The Western Union then owned a telegraph line between San Mateo, Half Moon Bay, Pescadero and Santa Cruz and after building a line to Santa Cruz along the Southern Pacific railroad and abandoned the above lne selling the section between San Mateo, Half Moon Bay and Pescadero for one dollar to Levy Brothers, pioneer merchants who had stores in Half Moon Bay, San Gregorio and Pescadero.

“Levy Brothers operated the line for telephone purposes until a year after the Sunset Telephone company entered the field. They then abandoned it and the Sunset lines.

“The Sunset Telephone company did not reach Half Moon Bay and Pescadero until September 1897. Joseph M. Francis, general store owner, was agent. A small jack board was installed with four subscribers. The exchange now has 54 subscribers.

“On September 30, 1897, at Pescadero a small wall board was installed by Mr. Sprout of San Jose and new subscribers were connected. The exchange now has 26 subscribers.

“Levy Brothers sold their business at San Gregorio and Pescadero in 1898 and established a small general store at San Mateo which has grown to be the largest department store on the peninsula.

“In 1890 the Sunset Line was continued to Belmont and a five jack board installed. Eugene O’Neil was appointed agent and had the telephone business located in a small store. The late Senator Sharon, then occupying Senator Ralston’s house, was the first subscriber. The exchange now has 72 subscribers.

“The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company is now operating the entire system. The population of the peninsula is steadily growing and the head of communication both commercial and social has been noted. The telephone company has also been stadily growing and the increased number of telephones in use has compelled them to move to a larger home. The new county headquarters has recently been completed on Burlingame avenue and is now occupied by the company.

“In June, 1918, 1457 telephones were in use in this community. In June 1925, 5478 were in use. At the time Burlingame and San Mateo have a total of 6050 telephones.

“The increase of telephones also means an increase in operators, repair men and installers, a total of 69 operators and 30 workmen are now employed at the local office.

“The old telephone building on Walnut avenue has been purchased by the town of Hillsborough to be used as a City Hall.”