Knitting A Digital Network With A `Golden Splice'

In the early days of railroads, the so-called Golden Spike marked an important milestone: the meeting of two lines originating from opposite coasts. Now, over 100 years later, an analogous milestone is being reached by the telecommunications industry. On Nov. 16, most of the big phone companies and equipment makers are tying a Golden Splice to symbolize the standardization of what they hope will be the railroad of the Information Age: the integrated services digital network. ISDN is a scheme for combining voice and data traffic on the same phone lines.

Early users of ISDN such as Eastman Kodak, Electronic Data Systems, West Virginia University, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory hope the unification of several incompatible ISDN standards into something called National ISDN-1 will finally popularize the oft-maligned technology. As for the Golden Splice, it isn't really a splice at all--it's the first transcontinental ISDN phone call with voice, data, and video between ISDN customers in Alabama, California, Illinois, and Virginia.