Chapter 13

Switching

I’d rather fight than switch.

— TAREYTON CIGARETTES AD, QUOTED BY Bartlett’s

In the early years of telephones, the telephone operator helped knit together the social fabric of a community. If John wanted to talk to Martha, John would call the operator and ask for Martha; the operator would then manually plug a wire into a patch panel that connected John’s telephone to Martha’s. The switchboard, of course, allowed parallel connections between disjoint pairs. James could talk to Mary at the same time that John and Martha conversed. However, each new call could be delayed for a small period while the operator finished putting through the previous call.

When transistors were invented at Bell Labs, the fact that each transistor was ...

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