Telephone exchange

inventor: Tivadar Puskás Tivadar, engineer, inventor
time of inventon: 1893

About the inventor

Tivadar Puskás de Ditró

He was studying in Vienna when his father died and he inherited some money. From the money he travelled to England, learned English rapidly and made a living from tutoring at a noble English family.

After living in England, and later working for the Warnin Railway Construction Company in Transylvania, he returned to Hungary. In 1873, on the occasion of the World Exhibition in Vienna, he founded the Puskás Travel Agency that turned out to be quite a profitable business. Due to his adventuresome personality he soon ended up in mysterious America. In 1875 he bought some land in Colorado where he became a gold miner for a while. He was impressed by the endless possibilities and brand new inventions of the New World. He worked together with Thomas Edison, and later, between 1877 and 1886, he was Edison’s European representative. The first telephone exchanges in Boston in 1878, and later in Paris in 1879 were built in accordance with Tivadar Puskás’s plans. In 1881 he started to build telephone exchanges in the Monarchy together with his brother, Ferenc Puskás. In 1892 he had his most significant invention patented, the Telephone Herald (Telefon Hírmondó) which is considered to be the predecessor of radio.

According to Edison, it was Tivadar Puskás who used the word “hallo” – a word deriving from the Hungarian word “hallom”, meaning “I can hear it” – for the first time, when testing the telephone. The word that has spread throughout the world since then.

Although he had substantial income, he was not good at managing his finances, that caused him continuous financial problems. When he died of heart attack in 1893, the news of his death was spread by his own invention, the Telephone Herald.


Telephone exchange, Telephone Herald


According to Edison visiting Budapest in 1911, Puskás was the first to come up with the idea of a telephone exchange thirty years ago. However, there isn’t any contemporary source referring to this, neither did Puskás claim so. Most probably, it was the Telephone Herald Edison was referring to, which is indeed an invention with a core unit made of telephones, but represents much more importance than the telephone exchange. Telephone Herald was the first known electronic news and program broadcasting system in the world, the predecessor of radio and internet. It was truly invented and have patented by Tivadar Puskás. In addition, it was operating in Budapest for the very first time in the world in 1893.