Talbot Martin’s first employment in the telephone industry was with Chicago (Bell) Telephone Company, repairing and installing telephones. He joined Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange Company in 1893, assigned to build and demonstrate an exhibit of an automatic system at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Martin installed the first private automatic system (P.A.X.) at the White House for President McKinley in1898. He was in charge of the Development Department of Automatic Electric Company, the successor company to Strowger, in 1904. By 1930, had been appointed vice president and chief engineer of Associated Electric Laboratories, a company organized to conduct all research and development for Automatic Electric, serving as president in 1932.
Martin possessed uncanny vision, as evidenced by inventions which were several decades ahead of the industry’s need for them. He is credited with 113 patents, although had he taken credit for those issued to members of his staff, to whom he had given the original idea, this figure would have been far greater. His inventions were responsible for much of the progress made by the Independent Telephone Industry. His technical ability made him the power behind the scenes during his 40 years of service, which coincided with some of the greatest development and acceptance of automatic telephony.
He might, in truth, be called “the father of automatic telephony”. The first Talbot G. Martin Award was made to him with a citation reading in part, “…in recognition of his eminence in the field the award has been named in his honor.” He died in 1935.