Rathlin Islanders no longer need operator assistance when making a phone call.
In 1969 John Stonehouse then Postmaster General made a promise to the people of Rathlin that the island would get an automatic telephone exchange. The new exchanged opened on Rathlin, which lies 8 miles off the Antrim coast, in August 1976. The new service cost £80,000 and caters for the islands twenty one subscribers and one public payphone box. The service introduced the Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) system providing islanders with direct contact with 21 countries and removing the need for an operator. The old temporary mobile exchange is switched off to be replaced by the new machinery.
Rathlin Island has played an important role in the history of telecommunications as it was here in 1898 where Marconi broadcast the world's first radio messages.
George Ultan Chief Planning Engineer with the Post Office explains the logistics of the new operation.
Unfortunately when one local man tries out the new public payphone, the number he dials is engaged.
An RTÉ News report by John Deering broadcast on 30 August 1976.