The inventor, Almon Brown Strowger was motivated because his undertaker business was losing clients to a competitor whose telephone operator wife was redirecting all calls for Strowger to her husband’s business. He formed the Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange Company and installed and opened the first commercial exchange in his hometown of La Porte, Indiana on November 3, 1892, with about 75 subscribers and a capacity of 99. He sold his patents to his associates in 1896 for $1800 and sold his share in the Automatic Electric Company for $10,000 in 1898. His patents were subsequently sold to Bell Systems for $2.5 million in 1916!
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