In 1906, Carl Bruns, Vice President of the Readlyn Savings Bank, organized the Maxfield Telephone Company. On April 29, 1907, the Maxfield Telephone Company was reorganized and renamed the Readlyn Telephone Company, and that is where our story begins.
William Sanwise was the first President of the Readlyn Telephone Company. Carl Bruns, the original founder, was the only director with a Readlyn address, since he had moved from the farm into town.
The first rural line was run from Readlyn to Klinger, three miles to the South. Each succeeding year about twelve to twenty shares were sold to new applicants. In a few years, lines were extended in all directions and further from town. One such line north of the Knittel area was shared by 24 families! An application for telephone service in 1907 required a $25 investment–the approximate price of one acre of land.
Interference and line noises were common, resulting in an occasional shouting match in order to be heard. Some of the very first lines were isolated county lines. They were connected only to a few neighbors, but not to the exchange. Later, they joined the system to access the network. An emergency call for a doctor could require a horseback ride to the nearest telephone!
Switchboards and Operators
The telephone was a new experience and quickly became an important link to the outside world. By picking up a neighbor’s ring, other people in town could eavesdrop to find out the most interesting news!
The earliest switchboards required the use of the hand-crank for ringing power. Sometimes dubbed “the punch board,” the panel took a continual punching of chords into jacks which make line connections. A key switch was operated to connect the line loops together.
The instructions in the directory requesting “ring off when through talking” ask customers for a short crank of the phone when finished. This courtesy caused a tiny door on the operator’s panel to open indicating that she would restore the lines for another call.
On the evening of September 9, 1912 a devastating fire swept through Readlyn’s northwest business section of Main Street. Readlyn Telephone, which was located on the second floor of the drug store was among the casualties. It is believed that the telephone service was lost at least several weeks until a new switchboard was installed on the second floor of Klemp Barber shop. Mrs. William Klemp was the company’s first operator and continued from 1906 to at least 1914.
The following operators for the years from 1914 through 1963 are:
- Mr. and Mrs. Harold Graybell
- Mr. and Mrs. Otto Meier
- Mr. and Mrs. Walter Heineman
- Mr. and Mrs. Fred Knief
- Mr. and Mrs. H.S. Schumacher
- Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Poock
During these years of telephone operators, several interesting stories survived. For example, during the Knief family’s tenure, telephone service was completely shut-down for 24-hours when they were stricken with Scarlet Fever and were quarantined. And, during Annie Schumacher’s tenure, her knowledge of first aid helped to save Roger Wolff’s life after he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. Also interesting was the prerequisite that every operator must be fluent in German as well as English, as German was predominately spoken during these years.
A new dial system was installed in 1963, at a cost of $43,000, which ended 57 years of tradition. And, with the introduction of the automatic switchboard, private party line conversion was completed in 1979.
Since 1979, technology has moved at a rapid pace, and Readlyn Telephone Company has grown with it. Cable Television service was added in 1983, followed by satellite television, wireless phones, Internet, high speed DSL service, fiber-to-the premise, and digital video service. Currently under the leadership of Manager Sharon Huck, Readlyn Telephone endeavors to keep pace with technological advances, and to ensure that Readlyn Telephone customers have access to all of the latest services as they become available.
Today’s Telephone Company
Readlyn Telephone Company is no longer just a “telephone” company – in 2011 Readlyn Telephone Company began Doing Business As (DBA): RTC COMMUNICATIONS to reflect all the services that our customers/shareholders need and come to expect . The traditional analog Cable TV was discontinued in 2010. The Digital Television is offered thru our Bundled Services or separately.Internet speed demand is rapidly increasing along with the minimum speeds set forth by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).
In 2010 RTC Communications completed our Fiber-to-the-Premise within the City of Readlyn and in 2015 began Fiber-to-the-Premise in our Rural exchange. RTC became 100% fiber in 2016 and offers the latest technology to all of our customers/shareholders entertainment and work from home needs. RTC Communications will become a GIGABIT COMMUNITY.
RTC Communication’s goal is to provide the BEST QUALITY Service, by providing the latest Technology and ensure RTC Communications customers have access to all of the latest services they want and demand and to provide Superior Customer Service. RTC COMMUNICATIONS – “Everything Begins with the Customer.”
121 Main Street
P.O. Box 159
Readlyn, Iowa 50668
M-F 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.