This week marks 30 years since the first phone call was made on Australia’s very first public mobile network – built by Telstra (or Telecom, as we were known back then).

Telecom's-mobile-phone-ad-blog-contentThis call was made on a car phone system weighing 14 kilograms with a 45cm handset and costing nearly $5000 (or $17,000 in today’s terms). This 1981 phone could store just 16 numbers, was installed in the car and alerted owners of an incoming call with a honking horn or flashing headlights.

The ‘80s car phone is just one of thousands of telecommunications devices, archival materials, film, video and photographs that make up Telstra’s Historical Collection. The Collection is housed at Telstra Museums in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and is cared for by a team of volunteers.

The Melbourne museum, where I work, includes a working step-by-step telephone exchange, morse code machines and a raft of weird and wonderful telecommunications equipment that most people under 30 may struggle to identify. Our volunteers include current and retired Telstra technicians, telephonists, and morsecodians – all of us passionate about telecommunications technology and its history.

For a virtual tour of the Melbourne Telstra Museum, check out the video below. You can also arrange a “real” visit by contacting your local Telstra Museum.

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