CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Bell tele-boutique lets shoppers choose phones

The Story

It has been 100 years since Alexander Graham Bell first outlined the principle that made his telephone possible. He would hardly recognize how his invention has evolved, and the changes keep coming. Now, in a market trial, telephone users in Montreal can visit a local Bell boutique to choose a telephone and install it themselves rather than wait for a serviceperson. As this CBC Television news report shows, it's all possible thanks to another innovation: the telephone jack.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 27, 1974
Guest(s): Keith Morgan
Host: Lloyd Robertson
Reporter: Fred Langan
Duration: 2:04

Did You know?

• Prior to the opening of telephone boutiques, Bell and other telephone companies promoted their telephones and services in the annual telephone directory.

• Before telephone jacks were introduced, residential phones were wired directly into the wall. To install a new telephone or move one to another room required a telephone company employee.

• Inspired by the popularity of Sweden's Ericofon, Northern Electric (later Northern Telecom, then Nortel), the manufacturing subsidiary of Bell Canada, introduced the Contempra telephone in 1968. The first Canadian-designed telephone, it was a sleek model with the dial on the handset instead of the base and available in a rainbow of colours. Bell Laboratories in the United States also made a version called the Trimline.

• In 1980 the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled that telephone equipment not manufactured by Bell could be plugged into existing Bell networks. Until then, subscribers had been obliged to lease telephones from Bell.

• This step opened up telephone markets to competition. Manufacturers began marketing telephones in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours. However, if these telephones malfunctioned, Bell would not repair them or exchange them as it did with its own equipment.

• Until 1984, Bell charged customers a single rate for telephone service and the use of one phone -- whether the phone was owned by Bell or the customer. That changed with a CRTC ruling that separated the charges for service and telephone leasing.

• Cellular service was introduced in Canada on July 1, 1985. The CRTC opened up long-distance markets to competition on June 12, 1992.

• Satellites have long brought telephone services to Canada's north. The first Anik satellite, launched in 1972, had 12 transmitters, each of which could carry one television program or 960 voice conversations.

• The CBC and the TransCanada Telephone System (TCTS) were among the first customers to occupy channels on the Anik satellites. In 1978, Telesat -- the organization founded to operate Canada's satellites -- became a member of TCTS.



Canada Says Hello: The First Century of the Telephone more