A long-running part of the nation’s communications technology passed into history this week in 1983 — as the last hand-cranked telephone system in the country converted to direct dialing. The place was Bryant Pond, Maine, and the old system still had about 400 subscribers, using equipment that had served rural customers since the turn of the century. That equipment, including hand-cranked magneto switchboards, is now on display at museums. For decades, most of the nation’s households dealt with a near telephone monopoly –today there are more than 5,300 carriers. More than 300 million Americans carry cell phones with them every day at work, on errands, and during leisure time. Profile America is in its 16th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
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