By Vincent Valentine, founder of the Telephone Museum:
In 1877, Boston was the global epicenter of innovation and Lowell was a prominent industrial complex supplying granite for canals and factory foundations. Rudimentary electrical componentry such as telegraph and alarm systems were leading edge. Charles Williams Jr’s electrical shop in Boston manufactured telegraph instruments but was also the go to shop for innovators and inventors. William’s shop was used by Alexander Graham Bell to prototype and manufacture the very first commercial telephones. Another shop, owned by Edwin Holmes, provided alarm systems for banks and other businesses. Holmes attached Bell’s new telephone to his alarm system and the very first telephone exchange in the world came into existence – the Telephone Dispatch Company.
Bell had been on tour with Thomas Watson giving telephone demonstrations in an attempt to garner interest. Imagine having to convince someone that they should have a telephone? Charles Glidden, a telegraph man at the time, attended Bell’s lecture at Huntington Hall in Lowell. Glidden was inspired and believed that telephony was a logical progression of telegraphy. Soon after, Holmes’ switchboard drew world-wide attention, which prompted Glidden to visit Holmes’ Telephone Dispatch Company. In his book, “A Wonderful Fifty Years”, Holmes writes; “Glidden, a telegraph operator, came in and later went home with the rights for Lowell in his pocket”.
Charles Jasper Glidden (August 29, 1857 – September 11, 1927) was an American telephone pioneer, financier and supporter of the automobile in the United States. Charles Glidden, with his wife Lucy, were the first (in 1902) to circle the world in an automobile, and repeated the feat in 1908. – from Wikipedia