1892-2008: The Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul Then and Now


SAINT PAUL, Minn., Aug. 29, 2008 — Exactly 116 years have passed since the last time the Republican National Convention (RNC) was held in Minneapolis-St. Paul. As the Twin Cities prepare for one of the most digitally-connected conventions in history, Qwest Communications, the Official Communications Provider for the occasion, and the Telecommunications History Group are looking back at the 1892 RNC and comparing it to this year’s event.
From a technology perspective, the upcoming convention at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul bears little resemblance to the 1892 convention, for which additional telegraph wires were installed between Minneapolis and Chicago in order to accommodate the increased demand on existing facilities by the press.
"The first long-distance telephone line from Chicago to New York wasn’t even open until October of 1892 – that alone demonstrates the stark contrast between the technology available to us today versus 1892,” said Qwest’s president in Minnesota, John Stanoch. “Today Qwest enables customers to connect to the people and events that are most important to them, in real-time.”
Compared to the 1892 convention, which relied solely on the use of the telegraph and did not employ a single telephone, the delegates and media attending this year’s RNC will enjoy a new level of digital connectivity with more than 5,500 voice and data lines provided by Qwest.
"Today’s technology is far more advanced than that of 1892, when people feared that if storms disrupted the telegraph wires serving Minneapolis-Saint Paul, no one would even know that the convention had happened," said Herb Hackenburg, a founding member of the Telecommunications History Group. “Thanks to the connectivity provided by Qwest today, the whole world can watch, listen and read about the RNC as it takes place.”
Qwest's network will carry real-time news, videos, blogs, phone calls, e-mail and other digital data to a global audience thanks to an aggregate data capacity of more than 50 billion bits per second running over more than 12 miles of fiber-optic cables. If connected end to end, the cables would stretch to 12,000 times the height of the IDS tower, the Twin Cities' tallest building.

During next week’s convention, Qwest’s network will be used to transmit the Republican presidential nomination and convention proceedings for the world to watch at home or on the go, from the opening gavel to John McCain’s acceptance speech at the Xcel Center on Thursday, September 4th.

U.S. Census population
62+ million
 300+ million
U.S. registered voters
12+ million
136+ million
U.S. telephone lines
Fewer than 285,000
 95% of households have land lines; 260+ million have wireless
Twin Cities' population
Almost 300,000
Approximately 670,000
Notable "first"
Minnesota’s first presidential nominating convention
First convention with women in all three of the top convention leadership positions
Notable distinction
First convention of a major party west of Chicago
Latest nominating convention in history
Benjamin Harrison
John McCain
RNC telephones
No phones; only telegraphs
 5,500 voice and data lines
RNC delegates and alternates
Amount raised for convention
Approximately $100,000
 $39 million+
Venue and seating
Industrial Exposition Building; 12,000
Xcel Energy Center; 20,000

*Note: Historic telecommunications data provided by The Telecommunications History Group. Inc. John Stanoch and Herb Hackenburg are available for interviews.


About Qwest

Customers coast to coast turn to Qwest's industry-leading national fiber-optic network and world-class Spirit of Service to meet their communications and entertainment needs. For residential customers, Qwest’s powerful combination of award-winning high-speed Internet, home and wireless voice solutions and digital TV includes a new generation of fiber-optic Internet services. Qwest is also the choice of 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies, offering a full suite of network, data and voice services for small businesses, large businesses, government agencies and wholesale customers. Additionally, Qwest participates in Networx, the largest communications services contract in the world, and is recognized as a leader in the network services market by a leading technology industry analyst firm.



About Telecommunications History Group

The Telecommunications History Group, Inc. (THG) collects, preserves, and interprets the unfolding history of telecommunications industry. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation funded by membership dues, research fees and grants. THG maintains and operates one of the nation's largest privately held telecommunications archives and two museums, and conducts programs on telephone history for educational and civic organizations. We have facilities in Denver, Colorado and in Seattle, Washington. For more information and to view fascinating historical exhibits, please visit our web site at www.telcomhistory.org.



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