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Telephone switchboard Versam

A Hasler HS31 telephone exchange

Construction of today’s museum telephone exchange took place in two stages. The original building, dating from 1916, was called “Schmiede” [the forge] by local people. The telephone exchange was housed there from 1950 onwards. The Eternit-clad extension was built by PTT between 1960 and 1964. The new basement housed an underground distributor, a WC and a battery room; the Hasler HS31 exchange and other switching technology were located on the ground floor. The electromechanical exchange served the 210 connections of the Versam local area network. The exchange was in operation from 1943 to 1989. Today it is disconnected from the telephone network but is still fully intact.


Historical telephone switchboards

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.