I found this story fascinating and wanted to share...
Almon Brown Strowger was an undertaker and was losing business to a competitor a competitor's wife, working as a telephone operator, was routing calls away from Strowger to their funeral home business.
Almon Brown Strowger was an American inventor who gave his name to the Strowger switch, an electromechanical telephone exchange technology that his invention and patent inspired.
One thing lead to another and Strowger invented the Automatic Telephone Exchange in 1889, essentially putting an end to the telephone operator altogether.
Automatic exchanges, which provided dial service, were invented by Almon Strowger in 1888. First used commercially in 1892, they did not gain widespread use until the first decade of the 20th century. They eliminated the need for human switchboard operators who completed the connections required for a telephone call. Automation replaced human operators with electromechanical systems, and telephones were equipped with a dial by which a caller transmitted the destination telephone number to the automatic switching system.
A telephone exchange automatically senses an off-hook condition of the telephone when the user removes the handset from the switchhook or cradle. The exchange provides dial tone at that time to indicate to the user that the exchange is ready to receive dialed digits. The pulses or DTMF tones generated by the telephone are processed and a connection is established to the destination telephone within the same exchange or to another…
I'm sure elements of this story have been glorified in history, but it's a fascinating tale with a lot of modern corollaries.