We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Cord Circuit?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A cord circuit is a telephone exchange where connections are completed manually, with cords plugged into the appropriate jacks. This approach to telecommunications was historically used at switchboards and junctions to complete calls until the number of telephone subscribers and advances in technology made it obsolete. Today, computerized switching has replaced this mechanical approach in most regions of the world. Some examples of cord switchboards can be seen in settings like films and television shows set in an era when this technique was still in use.

An operator seated at a cord switchboard has a number of jacks connected to local customers along with access to a trunk line to relay long distance calls. When a customer picks up the phone, an indicator light goes on, informing the operator that someone wants to complete a call. The operator plugs a cord into the customer’s jack and presses a speaking key to talk directly with the customer and determine how to route the call. For local calls, the other end of the cord can be plugged into the right jack. Long distance calls would require a connection with the trunk line and the larger telecommunications system.

In addition to being used by the telephone company at local exchanges and junctions, the cord circuit was also used by large companies with their own private exchanges. Such connections allowed companies to maintain a number of lines for workers, using them for both internal and external communication. At the telephone switchboard, operators were available to connect people in the office with each other, place outgoing calls, and process incoming calls.

These circuits provided a means of routing calls to a variety of locations, but there were some limitations. Operators could only handle so many calls at once and might be restrained by the available jacks or cords. As telecommunications subscribers grew in numbers, the cord circuit presented a number of obstacles. Customers might wait unacceptably long to place calls, or couldn’t place an order for phone service because the local switchboard couldn’t support them. Changes in technology led to the adoption of other switching techniques to complete phone calls.

One notorious disadvantage of the cord circuit, for customers, was the operator’s ability to monitor calls. This was sometimes necessary to determine when to terminate the connection, or to intervene in the event of a problem. It also resulted in a lack of privacy, as telephone operators could listen in on discussions through the cord circuit.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.