JFK+50: Volume 5, No. 1945PRESIDENT HAYES GETS A TELEPHONE IN THE WHITE HOUSE
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Rutherford B. Hayes had a telephone installed at the White House 139 years ago today, May 10, 1877.
The President, who said he liked the new technology, did not have the luxury of using it in his office. Mr. Hayes had to walk to the Telegraph Room in the Executive Mansion where the communications instrument was set up.
The only connection the White House telephone had at the time, however, was with the Treasury Department. The new White House telephone number was the single digit #1.
Two years after telephone service was set up in the Nation's Capital there were only 190 subscribers. President Hayes rarely used the telephone most likely because there were so few others who had one.
According to the Washington Post, President Barack Obama was critical of President Hayes' indifference to the communications device. Mr. Obama's criticism was based on a historically unconfirmed comment in which Mr. Hayes reportedly said that the telephone was "a great invention, but who would ever want to use one."
President Hayes did not actually use the telephone until late June 1877 when he spoke with the inventor Professor Alexander Graham Bell. Upon hearing Mr. Bell's voice over the line, Mr. Hayes said, "That is wonderful."
"Hayes has first phone installed in White House," May 10, www.history.com/
"Obama's whopper about Rutherford B. Hayes and the telephone," by Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post, March 16, 2012, www.washingtonpost.com/