Bourbon Sesquicentennial


Telecommunications

Bourbon has kept pace with the rest of the country in telecommunications. Internet connections, cellular telephones, and cable/satellite television service bring the outside world into the home, schools, and offices. Cellular towers jut into the rural skyline.

In 1953, television was in its infancy. WSBT-TV of South Bend had just gone on the air. Folks bought the new moving picture appliance and put up a towering antenna to catch the waves. Local radio merchants John Border and Bob Stuntz added television sales to their sales and service shops. Border also sold the tall towers and antennas needed to bring in the signal.

In May 1961 Bourbon School participated in an experimental broadcast of educational TV. High School Principal Milton Crooke reported there were some technical difficulties but the audio and quality of the teaching were excellent. Thirty years later, Triton Jr.-Sr. High School classrooms began having a daily morning broadcast of national news through Channel 1. Just this year the high school was wired for remote telecast courses courtesy of a grant and coordination of Crossroads Academy in Plymouth.

In 1955, Bourbon citizens got their first dial telephones. They were available in modern decorative colors for a slight extra charge from General Telephone. The phones were rented from GT and lasted forever. The move to an automated dialing system eliminated the manually operated switchboard, crank phones, and local jobs. Local calls could be made by dialing just five digits, up to 8 homes shared a party line. Today, a local call requires pressing of 7 numbers, few of those dial phones are to be found.

Party lines are nearly obsolete. Telephone lines not only bring in a voice communication, they also carry computer Internet connections, Fax communications, and the means to rent a movie or sporting event from a satellite network provider. In 2003, most children could not operate a dial telephone, having never seen one, but most children have know their way around a computer keyboard. While every household does not yet have a computer, almost every business and job requires some knowledge of computer applications. Several school classrooms are devoted to teaching the necessary skills. All the school departments use computers.

We are in the midst of an explosion of wireless communication. From land lines to transmitter towers to satellites we are more in touch than ever. People are beginning to give up a wired phone and use only a cellular unit. The growing demand for telephone numbers has caused an explosion in the number of area code districts in the United State in recent years. The north central Indiana area code changed to 574 from 219 in 2002.


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