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Research & Development in the Telecommunication Industry in Prewar Japan -Automatic Telephone Switchboard-


  • Yuki Nakajima

    () (The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science)


The telephone system was not sufficiently developed in prewar Japan. This study examines the technological development of automatic telephone switchboard (ATS) to clarify the problems of telephone system in prewar Japan. Ministry of Communication(MOC) introduced automatic telephone system in 1923. From the standpoint of the telephone exchange service, it was a very opportune decision; however, it was technologically premature. Although they had conducted research on the system before WW1, their only choice was the primitive S ~ S system. Further, the dependence on import technology caused different A-type and H-type ATS to coexist. Each local telephone exchange district independently introduced a different type. The MOC had to prepare the specifications and parts for repair for two different systems. These factors hampered the improvement of the telecommunication quality. Standardizing the system by using independent technology became the biggest issue for the MOC in the 1930s. In the 1930s, some joint researches were organized with private enterprises. They tried to develop a gT-type h or gElectronic Tube-type h ATS. However, the T-type ATS was merely an improvement over the outdated S ~ S system with respect to the circuit design. On the other hand, Matsumae aimed at a novel technology, an electronic common control system. However, a suitable electronic tube was not invented. As a result, the telecommunication industry was unable to resolve the coexistence problem in the prewar period. However, the engineers of MOC and ATS suppliers recognized their technological backwardness and shared an awareness of the importance of standardization by independent technology. This was the starting point for the research and development system of the telecommunication industry in gPostwar Japan. h

Suggested Citation

  • Yuki Nakajima, 2006. "Research & Development in the Telecommunication Industry in Prewar Japan -Automatic Telephone Switchboard-," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 06-23, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
  • Handle: RePEc:osk:wpaper:0623

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anchordoguy, Marie, 2001. "Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Company (NTT) and the Building of a Telecommunications Industry in Japan," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(03), pages 507-541, September.
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    More about this item


    Telephone system; Automatic Telephone Switchboard; Ministry of Communication; Research & Development; Joint Research;

    JEL classification:

    • N65 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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