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Melbourne's earliest telephone connection was installed in 1879. Australia's first telephone exchange opened a year later in Collins Street. At that stage there were only enough subscribers to fill a single page.

By 1886, a dozen women telephonists answered calls at a larger exchange in Wills Street. In 1887, Melburnians made 8000 calls each day, mostly during business hours. The early subscribers were mostly wealthy banks, solicitors, insurance companies, auctioneers, printers, importers, brokers and merchants.

The new invention was to have far-reaching implications for the shape of the city. Taller buildings appeared, made possible by easy communication between floors. Most striking was the forest of poles and wires that spread along the city streets. But the army of errand boys and letter carriers who had scurried between city offices disappeared rendered obsolete by the new invention.

Melbourne Telephone Exchange directory
magnifyMelbourne Telephone Exchange directory
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