This is a neat photograph of an old telephone exchange office from about 1915. The operators actually made the connections on the telephone by way of the pictured switchboards. It is amazing to consider that in the past every telephone call had to be routed manually by operators like the ones pictured above.
When I was growing up in the 1960's we had a "party line". This meant that a number of people along a road in a rural area shared the same line. The result was that only one family could use the phone at a time. If you picked the phone up, and another family was already using it, you could hear them speaking on the line. You would then hang up, and try again later to see if they were done. Sometimes when you were on the phone you would hear a click, indicating someone else on the line had picked up the phone. Usually when you heard this you would wrap the call up, freeing the line up for someone else. It is amazing how far things have come just in my lifetime.