Comporium Telephone Museum

Your visit to the Comporium Telephone Museum, located in the heart of downtown Rock Hill, begins by introducing you to life in Rock Hill before we had wireline and wireless telecommunications, high-speed Internet, security or cable TV, and tells of the beginnings of Rock Hill Telephone Company (now Comporium). There is never a fee for admission, but we do ask that children under 16 be accompanied by a responsible adult. Tours are available for school groups and day care centers. Call (803) 324-4030 to schedule.

Comporium Telephone Museum Exhibits

Museum Timeline

The First Telephone in Rock Hill
The first telephones in Rock Hill

The first telephones in Rock Hill were purchased from Sumter Telephone Manufacturing in Sumter, South Carolina. Two instruments were brought back to Rock Hill by John Gary Anderson and installed. They connected the Holler-Anderson Buggy Company and the train depot. Eventually, there was enough interest in the town to add more lines and form the Rock Hill Telephone Company.

How Were Calls Connected?
Switchboard. Where operator works.

To place a call, you would speak to an operator and ask to be connected to the person you wanted to talk to. The operator would make the connection to another home in your city. If you wanted to call someone in another city, a series of operators would connect the call. The switchboard shown here was used to make these long distance calls, which would take about seven minutes to complete.

Meet “Old Mack”
Old Mack Truck

This 1927 Mack truck was acquired in 1930 from American Telephone & Telegraph in Atlanta. The original headlights were powered by gas and the vehicle’s top speed was 12 miles per hour. On that first trip to Rock Hill, a stop had to be made in Greenville to light the headlights so the journey could be completed. Affectionately known as “Old Mack,” the truck was in service until 1978.

Maintaining the System
Maintaining the System

Keeping a telephone system up and running takes a lot of know-how. In the early days, repair crews would use equipment like this to find the problem in a telephone line or prevent problems like lightning strikes from damaging the system.

Making Calls on Your Own
Making Calls on Your Own

The invention of the electromechanical switch forever changed the way people made telephone calls. For the first time, one person could complete a call to another person without having to speak to an operator. This saved time and made it easier to reach the person you wanted to talk to.

How Were Repairs Made on the Lines?
How Were Repairs Made on the Lines?

Before there were bucket trucks, workers needed a way to reach the telephone lines to make repairs. This special platform was suspended in the air and provided a place for the worker, called a splicer, to sit and store any needed tools. The splicer would climb a ladder to reach the platform and perform the work.

What Is a Pay Phone?
What Is a Pay Phone?

Cell phones haven’t always been a part of everyday life. If you needed to make a call while you were away from home, you could use a pay phone like this one. The charges varied based on how many minutes you talked.

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