Alexander Graham Bell famously demonstrated his invention by communicating between two rooms of a Philadelphia boarding house in 1876, and later that year showed it at Philadelphia’s Centennial Exhibition.

Bell’s patent and his publication of technical details in 1877 excited scientists and experimenters around the world, including Australia.

The first commercial telephone in Australia was installed in 1879 by a Melbourne engineering firm, Robison Bros to link their city office with their South Melbourne foundry.

The first commercial telephone exchange opened in Connecticut in 1880. Just two years later W.H Masters and T.T. Draper formed the Melbourne Telephone Exchange Company and established a 100 line exchange in Melbourne. They connected up the existing point to point telephone connections and assigned the number 1 to Robison Bros.

The picture shows an operator at the Melbourne telephone exchange in 1887.