This Day in History – August 13th, 1889


K1 telephone kiosk in Tintinhull, Somerset

In 1889, a bank in Hartford, Connecticut (which was called the Hartford Bank) had a machine installed, and became the first place to have a coin-operated telephone. On this day in 1889 inventor William Gray had patented a design for the world’s first mechanized pay phone. The initial design was actually a “post-pay” device in which you paid your coins at the end of the call; it was not until nine years later that the “pre-pay” phone made its debut in Chicago.

Perhaps the most iconic public pay phone is the British red box. The first standard public telephone kiosk was introduced by the British Post Office in 1920. The K1 (Kiosk No.1) was made out of concrete and rather different from the bright red box of later years. Despite being constructed out of concrete only a few of them remain standing, one is located in Trinity Market in Kingston-upon-Hull where it is still in use.

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