Original Source: wikipedia.com
New England Telephone and Telegraph installs the first battery-operated telephone switchboard in Lexington, Massachusetts.
The first telephones in the 1870s were rented in pairs which were limited to conversation between those two instruments. The use of a central exchange was soon found to be even more advantageous than in telegraphy. In January 1878 the Boston Telephone Dispatch company had started hiring boys as telephone operators. Boys had been very successful as telegraphy operators, but their attitude (lack of patience) and behaviour (pranks and cursing) was unacceptable for live phone contact, so the company began hiring women operators instead. Thus, on September 1, 1878, Boston Telephone Dispatch hired Emma Nutt as the first woman operator. Small towns typically had the switchboard installed in the operator’s home so that he or she could answer calls on a 24 hour basis. In 1894, New England Telephone and Telegraph Company installed the first battery-operated switchboard on January 9 in Lexington, Massachusetts.