- Telephone switchboards
A Siemens System A42 telephone exchange
The building which housed the Frieswil telephone exchange was a simple one-storey functional building constructed by the PTT (the Swiss Postal Telegraph and Telephone Agency). The building is divided into a foyer, a room for the electrical power supply and a room for the auto dialler. The Siemens System A42 automatic rural exchange was an electromechanical system. It had 400 subscriber connections and switched calls from Frieswil and its surrounding area. The Frieswil telephone exchange was in public use from 1940 to 1981. It is preserved in its entirety but is now disconnected from the telephone network.
The Museum of Communication in Bern has four historical switchboards. The electromechanical telecommunications devices were manufactured in Switzerland by the companies Hasler, Siemens and Standard Telephon & Radio AG (STR). The technology that has survived in situ is therefore part of Swiss industrial culture.
Switchboards such as these would have used dials or telephone keyboards to switch the numbers dialled. Electromechanical boards were introduced in the 1920s, whilst today everything is done digitally. Switchboards are points of intersection in the telephone network. It is where telephone communication is directed. Manual switchboards and telephone operators were eventually replaced by automatic telephone exchanges.