One hundred years ago this week, Geelong residents were the first in Australia able to direct dial a telephone call – no operator assistance needed! This amazing leap in technology was due to the installation of the first automated telephone exchange in the Southern Hemisphere and the second in the British Empire.

So cutting edge was the technology for its day, that the Geelong Advertiser wrote that “to see it work and grasp what it does makes it look supernatural” and it is “so ingenious as to almost beggar complete description”.

A few weeks after the launch, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on 23 July 1912, that “some of the subscribers have not yet mastered the new system of turning the discs round to secure the numerical combination for each subscriber dialled; but those who are able to operate the automatic system appear to be well satisfied.”

When I look at the technology Telstra’s networks support today it is hard to comprehend how far we have come in 100 years. If an automated telephone call looked supernatural, what would the writer think of the latest mobile handsets that make video calling possible, angry birds and words with friends are played by train commuters and where Google is a mere click away?

Australia has always been at the cutting edge of technology. From the first automated exchange in 1912, to launching innovative network solutions like Top Hats to extending fixed broadband coverage and to launching Australia’s first commercial 4G LTE network in September last year, Telstra has been there not only keeping our customers connected, but offering new and innovative ways to stay in touch.

Check out the Flickr gallery and slideshow below.