From a central station at the telephone company’s building the music is transmitted over the regular telephone wires and “voiced” at the subscriber’s end through the customary horn.For more information on the Tel-musici Company (unidentified by name in the Times article): “Distributing Music Over Telephone Lines,” Telephony: The American Telephone Journal, 18.25 (1909). Here are two photographs from Telephony, a partial view of the Wilmington Music Room (with phonographs lining the wall) and a home installation.
The try-out in Wilmington has shown that there is an ever-growing demand for music among telephone subscribers. The music room at the exchange is a large chamber, around the sides of which is a switchboard. The room is equipped with a great number of phonographs and all of the phonograph records are on file.
When a subscriber wants music he calls the exchange and asks for this room. He tells the girl in charge what selection he wishes to hear, making his choice from a catalogue which is supplied by the company. Then the subscriber affixes the horn to the telephone receiver, the music operator puts the desired record on a phonograph which is plugged into the subscriber’s line, and starts the machine. At the conclusion of the music the connection is automatically cut off.
Arrangements may be made for an evening’s entertainment this way, the programme being made up in advance and submitted to the company by telephone, with orders to begin at a given time. Should two or more subscribers simultaneously want the same piece this can be done simply by connecting both lines to the same phonograph.
In Wilmington the company asks music subscribers to guaranteee $18 a year, the charge for records being from 3 cents for the regular records to 7 for those by the great operatic stars.
From “Music By Telephone. Experiment Has Proved Successful In Wilmington — May Be Tried Here,” New York Times, May 31, 1910.
[Click for larger views.]
Elaine, could that be our Beckwith piano?