First call centers

The first call centers

Have you ever wondered what the first call centers were? They have been sprouting like mushrooms all over the world. Its popularity is undeniable and its effect on economy has been consistently strong throughout the years but it seems like we never really knew how it all started.

Back in the day, some organizations used the concept of call centers as an internal department to handle customer queries.

In one of the featured articles about the first call centers, it states that call centers have a creation myth. According to the myth, the call centers we know today originate from the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) developed in 1973 by US firm Rockwell (the Rockwell Galaxy) to allow Continental Airlines to run a telephone booking system.

One of the first ACDs developed was the Private Automated Business Exchanges (PABX) used to handle large numbers of customer contacts. It is through the invention of this technology that we have call centers today.

First call center in UK
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The Birmingham Press and Mail in United Kingdom was the first known call center that ever existed. The organization used the first ACD systems. They had GEC PABX 4 ACD installed in 1965.

The Ericsson PABX ET 4 manufactured by Ericsson Telephones of Beeston, Notts was a fully automatic Strowger Telephone system with a cordless operator’s console. It superseded the PABX No. 3. The ACD system was an adaptation of this PABX ET 4 system.

It was in the 1980s when the term ‘telemarketing’ got a few unpleasant connotations from the people. Many of the customers viewed telemarketing very intrusive. Since then, the industry decided to shift the terminology to ‘call center’.

The Ericsson PABX ET 4
Photo from

Although call centers started to exist in the 1970s, it was in the mid-1990s that it gained popularity. The industry took off as organizations of all sizes started to establish call centers to address customer service requests, billing inquiries and the like.

Since then, call centers have established a specific function in business. This function is to deliver quality customer experience that addresses the needs and preferences of different customers. Moreover, it is a business infrastructure that helps organizations to improve efficiency and manage customer care expenditures.

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