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KELLOGG SWITCHBOARD & SUPPLY CO.


The Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Co. was incorporated under laws of the American state of Illinois in 1897. It took a man of great forsight and courage to start an enterprise of this nature as the origins of the company date back 17 years to 1880. It was then that the founder, Milo G. Kellogg, started to put together a corps of highly trained engineers, laboratory assistants and patent lawers who would plan and experiment ready for 1897 when many of the basic patents, put in place by the Bell organisation, were to expire.

For years before the Bell patents expired, Kellogg and his team developed improvements in the art of telephony. On the great day in 1897, he transferred no less than 148 patents and patent applications, representing many years of inventions, to his new company. He had made these improvements whilst planning and securing the financial and business details of his new company.

Notable amongst the team of specialists were Francis W. Dunbar, William W. Dean, Kemster B. Miller and Franz J. Dommerque. These names represent the finest pioneering spirit of the early telephony days in America and several were to be known later as owners of their own company of telephone apparatus manufacturers. These men were to play a large part in forming the basis of the American Independent telephony movement.

The Kellogg Company's first factory was located at Highland Park, Illinois, in a building almost too small to manufacture its first switchboards. It was in this plant, and in the first year of the company's existence, that the large divided multiple switchboard was conceived and manufactured for a St. Louis telephony company. This divided multiple plan was adopted to provide capacity and to avoid the multiple switchboard patents of the Bell company.

This switchboard was the largest common battery switchboard built up to that time and the old timers in the Kellogg company tell how this board was assembled in every foot of space in the Highland Park plant. When it was installed in St. Louis it made a most remarkable showing and gave four second service.

The experience in building this large switchboard demonstrated the urgent necessity for larger quarters and after about one year the company moved to the corner of Congress and Green Streets in Chicago. The company was, in fact, forced out of the old Highland Park plant by the rush of business that came from the new field of independent telephony.

It appears that the Kellogg Co. was purchased by the Western Electric Company (part of the Bell Co.) in 1902 and remained that way until 1909, during which time W. L. DeWolf was the chief executive. At the end of this time the company was won back by Milo Kellogg following protracted litigation. During the time with WE the company continued to develop and manufacture equipment for the independent market. However there were some who campaigned against the "Bell-Kellogg" products claiming this was part of the war waged by WE against the independent telephone movement.

Throughout the ensueing years the Kellogg name has appeared on many telephones, switchboards and parts, some of which found their way (as late as 1948) to Australia and into the Post Office as well as Railways and private systems. The company certainly was a "supply" company as many bulletins were issued listing all the many products made by Kellogg for all branches of the Telephony industry.

From the September 1992 issue of the ATCS Newsletter



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