March 1957 Radio & Television News
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early
electronics. See articles from
Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby
Alaska and Hawaii were added
to the Union as the 49th and 50th states, respectively, in 1959. Prior to that time,
both were referred to as possessions or territories. This story from a 1957 edition
of Radio & Television News refers to Bell Telephone Systems and the
U.S. Army Signal Corps laying the first cable for opening commercial telephone service
between Port Angeles (near Seattle), Washington, and Ketchikan, Territory of Alaska.
The 900 mile, submarine cable carried 36 circuits, and took 2 years to install at
a cost of $20 million ($192 million in 2021 money per the
BLS). Work conditions for crews were
nowhere near as accommodating or protected against accidents as they are today.
As with so many things, our forebears sacrificed life and limb, literally, to bring
us to the comfortable existence we enjoy today. The men in these and other vintage
photos I post deserve your gratitude.
Alaska Telephone Cable Opened for Use
Underwater cable handles 36 conversations at once, provides added circuits for
public and defense needs.
Beach landing of cable at Skagway, Alaska. The cable from the
bow of the cable ship Albert J. Myer, in background, is supported by means of drums
The U. S. Army Signal Corps and the Bell Telephone System opened to public service
a new and important communications link between the United States and the growing
Territory of Alaska. The link consists of an underwater telephone cable system stretching
some 1250 miles from Port Angeles, Washington, to Skagway, Alaska.
The cable system represents two major projects, costing a. total of 20 million
dollars - one provided by the Long Lines Dept. of A. T. & T.; the other by the
Alaska Communication System, which is operated by the Signal Corps. The A. T. &
T. cable system extends from Port Angeles to Ketchikan, Alaska, a distance of about
900 miles. Twin cables, containing built-in amplifiers, lie in the ocean depths
off the coast between the two points. These cables were placed by the cable ship
Albert J. Myer late last year.
Map shows route of new telephone cable. Total length is about 1250 statute miles.
The ACS cable, which covers the 400 miles between Ketchikan and the Skagway,
is a single submarine cable stretching along the inland waterway on the southern
coast of Alaska. This cable utilizes amplifying stations that are located on islands
or points of land that dot that area.
From Port Angeles, the southern terminal, the cable circuits are connected to
the U. S. network at Seattle by a radio relay link recently constructed by the Pacific
Telephone and Telegraph Co. At the northern end, beyond Skagway, the circuits are
fed into the Alaska communications network, operated by ACS.
The system took over two years to build. It can carry 36 conversations at one
time and will be used to supplement the radiotelephone and land line facilities
that have been operating between the States and Alaska since 1937. The new cable
system will more than double the capacity of present radio and land line circuits.
Men loading cable into one of four vast
storage tanks below deck of the cable ship.
Posted June 1, 2021
(updated from original post on 2/25/2014)