Social History: AT&T cable linking the USA to Cuba during the 1950s…


This is a wonderful retro AT&T film on the telephone cable linking the mainland USA and Cuba during the 1950s…

USA Social History: The Cuban American Telephone & Telegraph Co. first linked the mainland U.S. (Key West) with Cuba in 1921. That first cable was extremely primitive, just two wires protected by insulation and armor.

(Left: Laying telephone cable by AT&T ship, 1950s…)

Over the next 20 years, a total of six cables were deployed to handle US-Cuba telephone traffic.

The last two of which are chronicled in this film, from 1950.

The cable used in the AT&T film was comparatively state-of-the-art — it used the newly-deployed polyethylene as both insulation and waterproofing. Diplomatic relations with the U.S. decayed at the end of the 1950s…

The S.S. Homeric sailing into Havana, Cuba. 1950s.

(Sears in Havana – 1950s…)

AT&T still provided Cuba’s link with the world for decades following, using not only the cables (which by the late 1980s were all damaged or severed) but also by a microwave, over-the-horizon troposcatter system located in Florida that provided not only telephone calls but also television signals.

With the growth of the information age, it was necessary to provide Cuba with more modern technologies.

But the very complicated politics of the situation meant that the country, gained piecemeal improvements, including satellite connections via Intersputnik, throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2011, the first high-speed broadband cable was installed between Cuba and Venezuela. Until then, Cuba was the last country in the Western Hemisphere without a fiber-optic link to the world.

Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ…

Visit the AT&T history center by clicking here…



About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…

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