In the earliest telephone switchboards the lines were connected to vertical conducting strips, across which were placed a series of similar horizontal strips in such a manner that any horizontal could be connected to any line strip by the insertion of a plug into holes provided in the strips for the purpose.
Since the time when the system first became prominent all switchboards have been arranged for metallic circuits.
Though many types of manually operated switchboards have been brought into use, differing from each other in respect of circuit and working arrangements, yet each of them may be placed in one or other of three main classes according as the system of working is magneto, call-wire, or common battery.
Several single switchboards like that described may be employed, each devoted to a certain section of the subscribers, and placed in care of an operator.
This last point is important in connexion with voltmeters used on the switchboards of electric generating stations, where relatively strong electric or magnetic fields may be present, due to strong currents passing through conductors near or on the board.