Geneseo, Cambridge and Henry County Communications, successfully serving you for more than 100 years.
February or March 1898
Printed in The Geneseo Republic newspaper: The outside world is seeking to establish telephone connection with this important center of the universe. It is possible that a neighborhood telephone will be constructed and connect with outside friends.
At the turn of the century in 1901
In 1895, the Central Union Telephone Company, later known as the Bell Telephone Company, opened an exchange under the management of E. S. Woebe to serve Geneseo, Illinois. At this time, some long distance service was available from a location above the old Steines Book Store. Three years later, in 1898, some farmers from Edford Township built the first lines to serve the rural sections of Geneseo. Line 1 consisted of only 9 subscribers, and lines 2, 3, 4, and 5 followed shortly, being switched from a livery barn.
At the turn of the century, 1901, to compete with Central Union Telephone Company, John Dedrick and D.M. Storm formed the City Mutual Telephone Company. For eight years the City Mutual Company showed great gains, forcing Central Union to sell its interests to City Mutual for $5304.00.
In 1926, a consolidation brought together the rural and city lines into what was named the “Geneseo Co-Operative Telephone Company,” under the direction of Robert Parker. The new office was located above the Farmers National Bank and served over 1,000 customers. The customers were being assisted with their calls by operators making a wage of 12 to 21 cents per hour. Mr. George B. Dedrick was president of this company, and during his 15 years as president he was assisted by Robert Parker as manager, Edwin Woehr, George Talcott, and James Ensy.
A young Nebraskan came to Geneseo
In 1941, with the customers totaling 1,800, a young Nebraskan came to Geneseo to fill the position of Manager of the Geneseo Co-Operative Telephone Company. Donald F. Anderson, born to a “telephone family” on May 20, 1909, decided very early on to join the telephone industry. Charles Anderson, his father, was the chief engineer for Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company, and his mother operated the local exchange in Exeter, Nebraska. His uncle, L. C. Anderson, who was in charge of the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Cable Department, gave Donald his first job.
The company that Mr. Anderson took over managing was privately owned, unlike many co-operatives in this area. Its stockholders numbered 635, none of whom owned more than 5 shares and 98% of them were Geneseo residents. Mr. Anderson was fortunate to have some long-term board members to turn to. Mr. Frank Swiger, president of the board, J. A. Bradley, and Charles Atwood had all been board members since 1926 and were very involved throughout Mr. Anderson’s early years of managing the Geneseo company.
One of Mr. Anderson’s first improvements was a machine known as the Underwood Sundstrand. Up until 1941, all rent, toll, telegraph, and miscellaneous subscriber amounts were posted by hand. This machine automated the billing procedures enabling the clerks and accountants to be more efficient.
Switch moved- we didn’t miss one call!
In 1945, a big move took place for the telephone company. A garage, which housed the Chevrolet automobile dealership, was purchased on East First Street. On September 2, 1945 the switchboard was moved from the second floor of the old Farmers National Bank building to the new location on First Street and “we didn’t miss one call.” Definitely something for the company to celebrate, along with the end of World War II.
In 1947, new switchboards were purchased to double the capacity of the company. This was the beginning of a conversion of all the rural lines from magneto operations to common battery service. Those lines, which were not owned by the company, were purchased from local farmers. The end of 1950 completed the project.
System converted to dial service
With the completion of the common battery project, planning began on converting the system to dial service. The equipment was purchased from Automatic Electric of Chicago for $500,000. Original planning for the project had a cutover date of August 1951; however, it was not until April 5, 1952 that the new dial system went into service. Now “toll dialing” would be available to the operators and incoming long distance calls could be handled directly from where they were placed. The new dial service allowed a 50% reduction in the operator force. The mayor, A. W. Wellstein made the honor of the first call at that time to the President of the Telephone Company, Mr. Frank C. Swiger.
Continued growth for the company
In 1953, an administrative agreement with the Henry County Telephone Company was signed. This agreement was the first of its kind. As approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission, this agreement allowed the Geneseo Co-Operative Telephone Company to act as a service bureau to the Henry County Telephone Company. Although they were separate companies, Geneseo would handle all operations and commercial procedures for Henry County under this contractual agreement. In 1957, a similar agreement was entered into between the Geneseo Co-Operative Telephone Company and the Cambridge Telephone Company.
The number of employees that handled all three companies in 1958 were 11 operators, 4 clerical workers, 6 on maintenance, 1 chief operator and of course, Mr. Anderson. The name also changed during 1958. Since the company had always been privately owned, the word “Co-Operative” was dropped and the name became, simply, the “Geneseo Telephone Company.” The sixties came, and cosmetic, along with physical changes needed to be made. During 1961, the business office was remodeled and modernized. Updating and expansion for this vastly changing industry was still necessary, so the Secretary of State granted permission for a six to one stock split and a sale of $400,000.00 in stock which took place in 1964. In 1965 the Sinclair Oil Company property was purchased directly east of the telephone company building. This was primarily for the addition of new dial equipment.
First Telephone Company in Illinois to provide 9-1-1
In 1968, Geneseo purchased a 101 Director and SATT Toll Ticketing equipment with installation completed January 2, 1969. The company also added an additional 400 lines and had the toll switchboard rebuilt into a new automated key sending, 6 position SATT switchboard. SATT made it possible to have direct long distance dialing and improved the speed and efficiency of the operators, by having the sys
tem read the Automatic Number Identification (ANI). Utilizing the 101 Director, Geneseo became the first telephone company in Illinois to provide 9-1-1 emergency dialing services.
Throughout the seventies, the Central Office continued to grow. People were rapidly moving to the Geneseo area. Popular at this time was the Wolf Road location for many Quad City workers who wanted to live in a small town environment. With this jolt of growth in the town’s population, a new unattended office was built for the Wolf Road residents in 1971.
50 years of service celebrated
The bicentennial year, 1976, was our nation’s birthday, but also a memorable year for the phone company. It was celebrated with an open house for 50 years of service and to honor Mr. Anderson for 35 years of service as manager of the company. Over 200 guests attended the banquet celebrating the Golden Anniversary. Another land purchase took place in 1980. A local car dealership located at 116 E. Exchange Street in Geneseo was converted into a garage for storage and larger equipment.
Alan Anderson joins the company
On July 1, 1981, Mr. Alan Anderson, son of Donald Anderson, General Manager, joined the companies. His position was Assistant Manager of Geneseo Telephone Company, Assistant Manager of Cambridge Telephone Company and Vice President of Henry County Telephone Company. He was a veteran of the United States Air Force where he served for 20 years and retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel.
Geneseo ceased to be an operator toll center
Early in 1982 new operator trunks were installed to all offices and Geneseo joined the AT&T TSPS network. With this change, Geneseo ceased to be an operator toll center.
In February 1985, the companies went online with the Telsciences SRS 1250 computer ending a period of more than 15 years of toll ticketing using paper tape. This machine would compile all billing information for direct dial long distance calls. Also in February 1985 the company surpassed 2 million minutes of toll traffic in one month.
A new digital switch arrives, and with it Equal Access
That summer, the companies began laying “T Screen” cable between all company offices in preparation of the new digital switches. Northern Telecom’s Digital DMS-10 HSO-SSO Cluster Concept was chosen with delivery of the first of seven switches on September 22, 1986. The seven switches HSO-SSO cluster was cutover at midnight, May 2, 1987. The host was located in Geneseo with a satellite at Green River and Green River North. The Henry County Telephone Company had satellites in Atkinson and Annawan and the Cambridge Telephone Company had satellites at Cambridge and Osco.
In March 1988, Donald F. Anderson was elected president and CEO of the company and Alan C. Anderson was appointed General Manager.
During October 1988, the company began the conversion to Equal Access. The planning and implementation of this was a complicated process and National Information Systems (NIS) of Minnesota was chosen to gather and tally all customers’ ballots for their choice of a long distance company. The choices were AT&T, MCI, Sprint and Telcom USA. Geneseo became the first small independent telephone company in Illinois to convert to equal access.
Five-year fiber-optic project
The summer of 1989 saw the start of a five-year fiber-optic project involving all three companies. The first fiber installed by Geneseo crews was between the Cambridge and Osco offices. Purchase of right-of-way along the old Rock Island railroad tracks gave an unobstructed path for fiber all the way from Annawan to Colona. Michels Pipeline Company brought in their railroad plow and laid 21 miles of fiber cable along the track in one week. This fiber connected 4 of the 7 offices, each of which was within a few hundred feet of the tracks.
E-9-1-1 Geneseo Telephone Company awarded contract
In November 1989, the E-9-1-1 issue was voted on, and overwhelmingly passed by Henry County. A surcharge of .95 cents would be added to all subscribers’ bills starting March 1990, in order to finance the installation and operation of the system. Geneseo was designated the primary telephone company for the county wide 9-1-1 project, and also awarded the contract to develop and implement the Enhanced 9-1-1 system.
First Telephone Company in Illinois with CLASS
In late 1990, Geneseo agreed to a VO (field test) the generic for Northern Telecom that brought Signal System 7 and the SRP to DMS 10 switches. This was a continuation of an excellent arrangement with Northern that had seen numerous VO and DMS 10 upgrades including the 400E processor. The next VO in early 1991 brought CLASS features (including caller ID) to the DMS 10 switches, another first in Illinois and for the Geneseo Telephone Company and its customers.
Tim Yager joined the company in July 1991 as a special assistant to the Manager.
The company purchased a directional-boring machine from Ditch Witch in late 1991 and increased its efforts to provide contracting services to organizations other than just the three telephone companies. The company also did another VO of Northern’s voice mail integration into the DMS 10.
New software development – New software company
William Farb was hired in late 1992 to develop a PC based software package for telephone company customers and plant records and billing. Tim Yager was designated Manager of the project. The new program was introduced for the first time, while still in development, to other Illinois telephone companies at the Small Company Conference in October 1993. The first live billing occurred in September 1994 with the mailing of the Cambridge Telephone Company bills.
On December 6, 1994, a restructure took place and the holding company, Geneseo Communications, Inc. was formed. Alan Anderson was named President and CEO of the new holding company. At the same time, a separate subsidiary, GenSoft Systems, Inc., was also formed to market Operational Support Systems (OSS) software and function as a billing service bureau. Tim Yager was designated Manager of GenSoft. The second subsidiary of the holding company was Geneseo Telephone Company.
Roll out of Internet Service
In early 1995, Geneseo Communications, Inc. entered into a general partnership with Cambridge and Henry County to be known as Tri-Com General Partnership. The purpose of the partnership was to invest in a consortium of small Illinois Telco’s known as Illinet, L.L.C. for the purpose of purchasing some Illinois Cable TV systems. Illinet then expanded its offerings to include access to the Internet. Geneseo, Cambridge and Henry County also rolled out an Internet Service Provider (ISP) offering to their customers. Tri-Com then began negotiations to purchase the Cable TV system serving Geneseo and portions of the Wolf Road area. A purchase agreement was signed in July and Tri-Com took possession of the Cable TV system on January 2, 1996.
Geneseo Long Distance was formed
In January 1996, Geneseo Long Distance Company was formed and Scott Anderson, Alan Anderson’s son, joined the group as the manager of the long distance reseller. Geneseo Long Distance was a member of a consortium of Illinois small telco’s known as Associated Network Partners Inc. (ANPI), which had negotiated with one of the major long distance carriers for wholesale rates. Its first service went into effect on May 9th. Geneseo Long Distance Company later merged with Cambridge Long Distance Company and Henry County Long Distance Company to form Celebrate Communications, L.L.C. that is jointly owned by Geneseo Communications, Inc., Henry County Communications, Inc., and Cambridge Telcom. Also in January, ANPI entered into an agreement with GenSoft to provide all software support to the consortium.
During the first half of 1996, a major remodeling of the busi
ness office took place. The overall appearance of the business office had become quite dated to the 1960 time frame and did not fit the desired image of the community. After an initial concept from an architect; the contractor, Kibler Carpentry and the Manager’s wife, Carol Anderson came up with a design to fit the image of “Victorian Geneseo.”
On July 22, 1996 Lynn Pike was hired as Assistant General Manager of Geneseo Telephone Company.
GenSoft continues to grow
In September 1996, GenSoft moved from its current operating location in the back of the Telephone Company building to facilities leased on Chicago Street. This allowed space to expand the business and acquire additional employees.
In October 1996, GenSoft sold its first system outside of Illinois to Steelville Telephone Company in Missouri.
In February 1997, Geneseo Telephone Company instituted IntraLATA pre-subscription.
In April 1997, Alan Anderson was named President and CEO of Geneseo Communications, Inc.; Geneseo Telephone Company, Inc.; Celebrate Communications L.L.C.; and GenSoft Systems, Inc. Tim Yager was named Vice-President and General Manager of GenSoft Systems, Inc. and Lynn Pike was named Vice-President and General Manager of Geneseo Telephone Company. Scott Anderson remained General Manager of Celebrate.
Early 1997 also brought plans by Celebrate Communications to establish an inbound and outbound telemarketing center. After an extensive search, a location in Moline was leased that would have the capability of handling 100 call positions. Celebrate Communications shut down its call center a year later and leased the facilities to other telemarketing firms.
Residents of Andover, Illinois are given a choice
During the middle of 1997, the companies worked to get the cable TV signal on to the fiber optic cable to feed the Wolf Road area, Osco area, and to compete with TRIAX for customers in Andover. At the same time, telephone company construction crews supported Cambridge TelCom Services, Inc. in providing competitive telephone service to GTE customers in Andover.
Late 1997 brought a major expansion of our interconnect business with the forming of a separate department within the Telephone Company known as “Telebility”. Special emphasis was placed on our marketing ability within the Quad Cities area. Also, in late 1997, Celebrate opened a retail store in Rock Island providing pre-paid cellular and paging products. A year later, this retail store was shut down in order to concentrate on wireless PCS startup.
In February 1998, GenSoft purchased a lot in the Geneseo Industrial Park to locate a 7000 sq. ft. building to house its continually expanding business.
Telephone Companies band together to form IL PCS
On November 4, 1998, Geneseo Telephone Company, Cambridge Telephone Company and four other small telephone companies formed Illinois PCS L.L.C. in order to provide digital PCS under the Sprint PCS brand name. Tim Yager accepted a position as Senior Vice President, and assumed the duties of Project Manager of Illinois PCS.
DSL-High Speed Internet is offered
In April 1999, Geneseo Telephone Company rolled out Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Service, offering customers of Geneseo Telephone Company high speed Internet access.
On July 1, 1999, Scott Rubins replaced Lynn Pike as General Manager, who had accepted a position with Illinois PCS.
Internet Service area widens
On August 2, 1999, Tri-Com General Partnership sold its interest in Cable TV business and formed TriCom L.L.C., equally owned by Geneseo, Cambridge and Henry County Telephone Companies. TriCom L.L.C. was incorporated to continue to offer Internet service for Henry County and surrounding areas. Also in 1999, TriCom L.L.C. purchased customers in Kewanee, Galva and Aledo, Illinois, expanding its service area further into portions of Henry and Mercer County, Illinois.
Illinois PCS expands – iPCS is formed
In December 1999, Illinois PCS commenced service, offering Digital Sprint PCS service in the Illinois Quad Cities.
In August 2000, Geneseo Telephone Company completed its fiber optic ring, providing fiber optic technology for transmission of voice and data traffic over a complete self-healing ring.
On July 12, 2000, iPCS, Inc. was incorporated to assume the business of Illinois PCS. Alan Anderson was appointed Chairman of the Board of iPCS Inc. and Tim Yager accepted the position of President and Chief Executive Officer.
Local Computer Company purchased
On January 4, 2001, TriCom L.L.C. bought a local computer company, Interactive Design Consultants, and merged the two organizations together and formed IDC Digital Solutions, a full service computer and Internet service provider. In July 2001, IDC Digital Solutions opened a downtown retail store on State Street, offering a full range of custom built computers and accessories.
New switch offers direct links to interexchange carriers
On November 14, 2001, Geneseo Telephone Company replaced the 15 year old DMS-10 switch with a new state-of-the-art DMS-100 switch, capable of handling 10 times the capacity of the older switch and offering Geneseo customers direct links to inter-exchange carriers.
Wireless venture offers new opportunities
On November 30, 2001, iPCS, Inc. and Airgate PCS, a Sprint PCS affiliate located in the southern United States, completed a stock for stock merger by which iPCS became a wholly owned subsidiary of Airgate PCS.
Geneseo Telephone Company marks the end of a 61- year era
On December 30, 2002, Alan Anderson retired as President and CEO of Geneseo Communications, Inc. after twenty-one years of service. Geneseo Telephone Company had been managed by the Anderson Family for sixty-one years and Cambridge Telephone Company for fifty-seven years. Scott D. Rubins, General Manager of GTC since 1999 was named President and CEO of Geneseo Communications, Inc. and Cambridge Telcom, Inc. On December 30, 2003, Bill Farb was named President & CEO of Gensoft Systems, Inc.
Celebrating a Century of Service 1905-2005
In 2005, Geneseo Telephone Company celebrated its 100th birthday all year long. The celebration kicked off in March with each department within the company contributing to a time capsule which was buried on site and marked with a memorial stone commemorating 100 years of service to the community of Geneseo.
An exhibit featuring a time-line of telephones was on display at the local Geneseo Historical Museum. The Girl Scouts contributed to the celebration earning community service hours by helping plant a flower garden in front of the company’s main office. Geneseo Telephone decorated their business office with the artwork of more than 200 area children by hosting a coloring contest.
Employees of the company were featured radio guests each week on WGRG. Listeners were offered a chance to win lunch for two at area restaurants. Each employee was presented with a commemorative garden stone engraved with the company’s 100 year logo.
The pinnacle of the festivities was a three day long event which featured an employee gala aboard the Celebration Belle. Employees enjoyed dinner and live entertainment while cruising the Mississippi River. Sunday, July 17th, the entire community was invited to a day long celebration which included food, entertainment and interactive games. During this event the company was recognized for its contribution to the community by Geneseo Mayor Patrick Eberhardt and Illinois State Senator Todd Sieben. Monday, July 18th, the company hosted a golf outing and dinner for business clients.
Down with the Old and Up with the New
June 2, 2006 Geneseo Telephone Company announced the purchase of the Precision Alignment building. Demolition of the former Precision Alignment building made room for the new 4,500 square foot building which became the new store front location for the IDC TechCenter. More than 35 steel I-beam pilings were pounded 22 to 33 feet into the ground and provided the stable foundation for the new construction. In May 2007, the new store was opened with a new name, IDC Technology Solutions.
Protecting What Matters
May 2007 was a very busy month. IDC Technology Solutions opened the doors to their new building and Geneseo Telephone Company introduced security systems as their latest product offering. On Guard Security began providing monitored fire, smoke, security and personal safety systems to the residents of Henry County area.
Staying in Touch and Never Missing a Message
A personal electronic assistant is as close as it’s ever been as technologies gave the voice mail subscriber a new and improved voice mail system called Smart Voice. Smart Voice has the ability to forward voice mail messages from your home phone to your cell phone, work phone, PDA and even your e-mail.
Entertainment and Faster Speeds
Video and the fastest internet we have ever offered was offered to our customers in September 2008. Offering DIRECTV satellite tv and up to 24 MB internet download speeds in an affordable bundle of services continues to demonstrate that Geneseo Communications a leader in communication technology.