From the quarantine of 1918 to the lockdown of 2020

From the quarantine of 1918 to the lockdown of 2020

When you're in quarantine

With this slogan, the very nice advertisement of the telephone company Bell that lately, on the covid-19 pandemic, is making the rounds on the internet. It depicts a family in quarantine, but not in isolation because it has a telephone device. The phone helps to communicate with our loved ones, gives joy and comfort to the patient, and brings friends as close as they are. Because telephone service is global.

An advertisement of 1910 that is not connected with the pandemic of the Spanish flu of 1918! In the early 20th century, communicable diseases were so prevalent (diphtheria, smallpox, meningitis) that local authorities often imposed quarantine. “But there was a technology that promised to help life to go on: the phone”.

Manual telephony is collapsing and new technology is rushing

In fact, during the Spanish flu of 1918, the mortality rate was so high that the telephone network collapsed.

Strowger’s automated system was not widespread enough, and telephone services were still based on telephone operators who, due to the nature of their work, were particularly vulnerable to communicable diseases. It is estimated that almost 1/3 of employees at U.S. telephone exchanges they got sick.

However, life went on, even over the phone. A typical example is a telephone wedding that took place in 1918 between a sick soldier and his beloved! Despite the social distancing of the time, the phone had united them and they become one flesh.

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