Bond Certificate, issued/canceled1970's and 1980'sAmerican Bank Note CompanyThe item shown is representative of the piece you will receive
Since its beginnings as Southern Bell
in 1879, Florida was always in the telecommunications picture. It started when a charismatic business promoter named James Merrill Ormes united parts of National Bell and Western Union
to form the biggest telephone operating company in the South: Southern Bell.
The charter issued by the State of New York provided for the incorporation of the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, Incorporated. It allowed the company to enter the telephone business "within that part of the state of West Virginia lying south of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
and within the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.”
Although the charter was signed in 1879, the first telephone did not appear in Florida until 1880. A gentleman by the name of A.N. Beck is believed to have had the first phone in Florida. It was in Jacksonville and it connected Beck's office at Bay and Pine (now Main) Streets with the Inland Navigation Company at the foot of Laura Street. The connection was a "straight line," serving only his office and the navigation company.
The first full-fledged telephone exchange was set up in Jacksonville on May 24,1880 with 34 phones. At about the same time, the first Southern Bell exchange was installed at 14 ü East Government St. in Pensacola.
The novelty of the telephone gradually wore off and it slowly became a necessity.
Even in the new competitive environment that heralded the twentieth century, Southern Bell continued to expand its services. The first long distance service offered to Georgia was opened in Jacksonville in 1897. The rate was set at 85 cents for three minutes.
As of January 1, 1900, Southern Bell was operating in Fernandina, Gainesville and St. Augustine, in addition to Jacksonville, Pensacola and Tampa, (Tampa is now in GTE
territory). In 1901, companies in Lake City and Micanopy were purchased.
Throughout its growth, Southern Bell held fast to its commitment to employees. In 1912 the company set aside $150,000 for an employees Pension, disability benefits and death benefits plan. It was one of the first such plans in the country and the biggest.
Southern Bell continued to make its way south. In 1912 it arrived in Fort Lauderdale. It bought the Fort Lauderdale Telephone Company with 385 phones in operation. The Orlando Telephone Company was purchased in 1916, as were companies in Geneva, Oveido, Sanford, Chipley, Graceville, Havana, Lynn Haven, St. Andrew, Daytona Beach, Panama City and Deland. The West Palm Beach Telephone Company was acquired in 1920, including exchanges in Delray and Stuart.
In 1924, Southern Bell bought the Brooksville exchange from East Florida Telephone Company of Gainesville. Only two operators were needed for the company: a day operator and a night operator. They each worked 12 hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
On December 6, 1924, the company Southern Bell purchased the South Atlantic Telephone and Telegraph Company and moved into Miami.
Customer growth was steady, and in 1955, the one-millionth access line was installed in Florida. It took 76 years to reach 1 million lines, but only 18 years to hit the 2 million line mark. By March 0f 1997, the company had installed its 6 millionth access line.FL-Florida WV-West Virginia NY-New York Telephone/Telegraph Companies Telephone Companies Under $10 Under $5 Female Subject Telephone Featured Company Logo Featured