The Exhibit Hall

The displays, demonstrations and games in the Exhibit Hall are designed to tell the story of how the Bell System, through science and technology, has in the past and will continue to make communicating easier and better for everyone, everywhere.

The following describes the major areas of the Exhibit:

Creatures and Man Area. This display consists of a series of light boxes and copy blocks -- pictures of creatures of land, sea and air -- as well as photographs of some of man's accomplishments in communications. The story told is that essentially all creatures communicate. Some have more highly developed senses than man, but man because he can think and reason has developed his ability to communicate to a far greater degree than any other form of life.

Senses Area. Here, speech, vision and hearing are examined. There are two major exhibits -- a demonstration of Visible Speech and Voice Prints, and one of Artificial Larynx and the Vocoder.

Because the voice is transmitted on the telephone, Bell has devised ways of studying it. The Visible Speech Translator shows us the sounds of the voice on a television screen.

The Visible Speech exhibit features an isolation booth in which a volunteer from the audience reads a sentence. His speech patterns appear to the audience on a television screen.

The Artificial Larynx is demonstrated as the Bell Telephone Laboratories invention which restores the gift of speech to those who have lost their vocal chords.

Artificial Larynx demonstration (Photo courtesy of Bradd Schiffman)
Source: A.T. & T. Archives Photo

Artificial Larynx 

In the Vocoder exhibit it is shown how this experimental machine samples the voice, selecting only parts for transmission and reconstructing them into a complete conversation at the receiving end. It will actually be demonstrated how your voice can be taken apart and put back together again.

One wall includes an animated display of the ear, eye and throat, explaining how they function. The visitor is also able to test his skill at pitch matching, and to participate in an optical illusion game.

Senses Wall in the Bell System's pavilion. Approximately 14 by 40 feet, it depicts what takes place in hearing, speaking and seeing. Sound waves are shown in motion through the medium of Technamation.
Source: Industrial Photography, Vol. 13 No. 5, May 1964

Senses Wall

Source: Monsanto Magazine, Summer, 1964
Children at the Senses Wall
Telephone of Today and Vision. Two displays make up this area. They demonstrate some of the products of over 80 years of Bell System research. The first display explains the development of telephone instruments and services from our earliest offerings to the modern instruments and services. The second exhibit demonstrates how research in the area of vision has enabled us to gain knowledge in areas where we were once unable to see. It ranges in scope from the electronic microscope to the radio telescope
Basic Science Exhibit. The major display in this area demonstrates crystal growth. It is supported with displays of the dramatic developments that have been made possible by knowledge acquired through research on the structure of crystals -- the transistor, solar battery, Maser and Laser. One wall is devoted to a display of the dramatic impact on our lives that has resulted from these inventions, namely miniaturization of electronic equipment, use in satellites, computers, transmission, radio and television equipment, etc.

Waves Exhibit. The waves exhibit features a Torsional Wave Machine that demonstrates the behavior of waves. It is demonstrated that waves carry information and that this fact makes it possible to transmit voice, music and television over great distances.

Supporting displays show the various transmission media -- cable, coaxial cable, wave guide, microwave, Maser and Laser.

Tasi Complexity Exhibit. This exhibit shows the underseas cable routes and how they operate. The Tasi demonstration explains how utilization of these routes is almost doubled by using the silent times occurring in a conversation (e.g., time spent listening, thinking or pauses) to transmit parts of another conversation. In the foreseeable future, the Vocoder, demonstrated in the Senses Area, will be used in conjunction with Tasi to more than quadruple the information-carrying capacity of the underseas cable.

In support of these exhibits, there are logic and memory games in which the audience may participate. There is an age-guessing game, a Roman numeral translator and a Tic-Tac-Toe game.

Hostess Ruth Gola gives Sally Winternitz a live demonstration on the speed of Direct Distance Dialing with a call to a recorded weather announcement in a distant city.
Source: A.T.& T. Archives Photo

"What's the Weather?"

Picturephone (Television Telephone). Here the audience participates in an actual research project conducted by the Bell Telephone Laboratories on TV telephones. There are six picture telephones in this area which are interconnected so that a participant may use any one to see and speak with any one of the others. Bell Laboratories staff members interview participants to determine such things as what kind of picture phone instruments they would desire, what kinds of services they would like it to perform, how they would use it, what the value of a service of this kind would be to them, etc.

Picturephone in use at the Bell System (Photo courtesy of Bradd Schiffman)
Source: A.T.& T. Archives Photo

Picturephone Demonstration 

Data Exhibit. This exhibit demonstrates the services offered by the Bell System that makes it possible for machines to talk to machines. It emphasizes many of the ways that information may be passed between machines and the tremendous speeds of transmission made possible through the use of this medium.

Dataphone Exhibit
Source: A.T.& T. Archives Photo

Dataphone Exhibit

Network. In a pyrotechnic-like display of moving multi-colored light on a treated plexi-glass wall that wraps almost halfway around a circular theater, the Network Story is told. In forty steps the story builds from a single call into the nationwide network. Data, the Defense Lines, the Cable and Microwave Systems all combine into one vast network which then expands into its world-wide capability, and, with the effect of a shrinking world, will ultimately evolve the extension of the network into space through satellites and the Maser or Laser.

Model of the Telstar Communications Satellite on display (Photo courtesy of Bradd Schiffman)
Source: Official Guide - New York World's Fair, 1964 Edition, Time-Life Books, publisher

Telstar Model 


You can play a game of tic-tac-toe with a machine developed by William Keister of Bell Telephone Laboratories, but don't expect to win. The machine can be tied but cannot be beaten. The machine represents the kinds of processes that can be built into telephone systems. It illustrates how relay-type equipment (like that used in telephone systems) makes logical decisions in connecting one caller with another.

The face of the cabinet is divided into nine squares. When you press a button near one of the squares to light it with a figure, such as "x", the machine automatically places the other symbol, in this case an "o", in another square and waits its turn for another play. The electro-mechanical brain can make three decisions. If you succeed in marking two symbols in a row, the machine makes a defensive play by filling in the third space in the row. If the machine itself has two in a row, it will fill in the third and win. If there is no immediate chance to win and no need to block you from winning, the machine marks the most advantageous square.

No matter how good you are, the best you can hope for is a draw.

Source Book "Science at the Fair"


A pair of youngsters and hostess Diana Janukatys at the Bell System exhibit await an answer from a favorite cartoon character they have dialed at the kiddie telephone center. P.S. they got a recorded message.

Source: News Colorfoto by Edmund Peters and Richard Lewis, New York Sunday News, May 23, 1965

Kiddie Telephone Center

Webmaster's note... As is often the case, these "Feature" stories on the exhibits at the Fair involve the contributions of many people. I am so thankful for the materials that others contribute because of how much they add to these presentations. In the case of the Bell Feature, I'd like to especially thank Tom Wentland for the Bethlehem Steel reprint that explains the construction of the pavilion. Bradd Schiffman contributed many of the pictures that you see throughout the story. And my thanks to Ray Dashner for his recording of the 1965 version of The Ride of Communications which I was able to transcribe to complement the '64 version that I've had for many years. Thanks to everyone who helped to remember this wonderful exhibit.

Bill Young
October, 2001