TELEPHONE SYSTEMS, Independent.
Under this designation are placed all those tele phones not owned by Bell system companies, such as certain' telephones used for military purposes, some of the telephones in those cities where there are two or more exchanges existing and operating side by side, 'such interior tele phones as are used solely for inter-communica tion in buildings, hotels, factories, etc., and some of the farm or rural telephones.
The original Bell patents expired in 1893 and for 17 years prior thereto the patents granted to the first inventor of the telephone were up held in the United States and all telephones in commercial use were supplied under license by the predecessors of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Upon the expiration of the original Bell patents, numerous manufac turers began to supply telephone instruments and considerable numbers of these came into use especially in the rural districts.
For many years the independent develop ment of the telephone business has been in progress largely in the rural districts where local co-operative and rural independent com panies are established. A large proportion of these now have -connection contracts with the Bell system. These lines are found in every part of the country, uniting homes, factories and camps.by means of party lines, which allow con versauon between the different stations of the line as well as from any station to a central exchange.
Up to the present time the independent tele phone movement has placed more than 800,000 American farmers, timbermen and miners in touch with their markets, their own communi ties and towns and cities near them. The move ment has been especially active in the Middle and Western States. These telephones are used not only for general purposes of communi cation, and in numerous ways for securing in formation regarding market quotations, but also in gaining information of financial value and advantage. The independent telephone business, however, is not limited to the coun try or isolated districts but has established it self in a number of cases in towns and cities.
In many cases, where two systems have come into existence, side by side, arrangements have been made to consolidate the systems by one interest disposing of its plant to the other. Such consolidations have very generally met with the approval of regulatory bodies and in this way many telephone users have had their range of communication greatly extended.
The growth of the independent systems in creased over 250 per cent in the decade begin ning about 1902 and ending in 1912. In the year first named there were reported in opera tion 9,092 independent systems and lines with 1,512,527 miles of wire. The number of tele phones operated on these systems was 1,053,866 and the number of messages or conversations per annum was estimated at 1,996,024,493. In the year 1912 the independent systems had in creased to 32,157 with 5,115,140 miles of wire and operating 3,642,565 telephone instruments. The estimated number of messages or conver sations over these independent systems in the latter year was 4,602,431,409. Of the total num ber of stations in the Bell system, in 1918 (10,992,325), 3,790,568 were owned by local co operative and rural independent companies or associations having sublicense or connection contracts with the Bell system.' There are in the United States 9,338 independent companies whose telephone systems connect with the Bell system, and about 1,600 independent companies whose telephone systems do not connect with the Bell system. There are also a large number of rural lines and systems which connect with the telephone systems of these companies, over 26,000 of which are connected with the Bell system. There are about 1,000,000 stations owned by independent companies not connected with the Bell system.
The exigencies of war service emphasized the great adaptability of the telephone to many situations and there was an increased call for telephone systems for reporting enemy opera tions, directing the movements of troops. muni tions and supplies, controlling artillery fire and in numerous other ways increasing the effective ness of the armed forces.