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De la primera a la última cabina telefónica en España: un recorrido por la historia y la tecnología

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De la primera a la última cabina telefónica en España: un recorrido por la historia y la tecnología

For a long time the telephone was a luxury item. It was the latest technology, the only means that allowed you to talk remotely with another person and live. la tecnología At the end of the 19th century, some devices were installed in the headquarters of the ministries and in the Royal Palace. Soon after, the invention reached the homes of the wealthiest of the privileged class. And it would take until 1928 for the first phone booth to open in Spain .

In reality, the term phone booth is not entirely accurate for the phone that was installed in 1928. It would be correct to say that it was the first pay phone for public use . This is how Pablo Soler, one of the authors of the blog Histories of Telephony in Spain, tells it: «The first telephones that had something special were the prepaid telephones. You bought a token and with that token you no longer needed an operator who had to be on the lookout. That phone was already connected to the central. If the call was urban, local, it was all automatic, while if it was long-distance, it was by operator ”, explains Soler.

This is how the telephone was installed at the end of the 1920s in the booth of the then Vienna Park (now Florida Park) , in the El Retiro park in Madrid. It was a device that was located inside a kind of box, which was opened to access the telephone. It was not yet the cabin concept we know, but it did have an important novelty. Saint Lucia Email List He did not need an operator to be in front of the phone and control the extension of the call

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A Sourney Through History and Technology

From the first to the last phone booth in Spain: a journey through history and technology

The telephone for public use was born even before the National Telephone Company of Spain (CTNE) itself, in 1924. The Guipúzcoa telephone network had already installed some since the early 1920s. “It was the same telephone as a normal one, but in very small towns, where you only put a phone. A family contract was made with someone from the town, so that that telephone line, apart from using it for them, the public could use it, “says Soler.

“There began to be call centers in which the operators themselves who attended, also controlled the extension of the call and then charged the user,” adds Soler in reference to the people, generally women, in charge of supervising these telephones. Its location was public places, such as a railway station.

Manual calls: the need for an operator
Keep in mind that the very invention of the telephone was still in a rudimentary phase. Even pay phones, like the one in Vienna Park in 1928, needed staff to answer them . But, in addition, in the telephone switchboards through which calls were conducted there was a swarm of operators.

They are those scenes that we have seen in the cinema, of rooms full of operators, who connect and disconnect cables to redirect calls. “In the 1920s all calls were manual. They had to go through an operator who was at the headquarters, in the building. And when the network begins to be automated, only the service within the same location is automated, ”says Soler.

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The First to the last Phone Booth in Spain: a Journey Through History and Technology

The popularity of the cabins waned over time. When most people had telephones at home, they lost their usefulness. Although they were still important in certain situations, for example, to contact relatives while on vacation. However, the real coup de grace came from the mobiles .

“The moment anyone has a mobile phone, the booths are already obsolete,” says Soler. These public telephones lose their functionality automatically. Well, mobiles fulfill even better the original role of the cabins, because the user carries them with them.

In recent years, different uses have been tried for phone booths, which by the way are no longer the concept of a closet that a person enters, but are more similar to the box that contained the first prepaid telephones. By taking advantage of the infrastructure, it has been tried to use the cabins as chargers or as WiFi points.

But the original function of the cabins has been surpassed. Today they have an average of 0.37 calls a day . However, there is still a cabin in each municipality with more than 1,000 inhabitants. In Spain it is considered a mandatory universal service and, as such, it will be maintained at least until December 31, 2021 . But everything indicates that we are in the extension of these public telephones, mobile lead which were so popular decades ago.

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