1873 Jewelers Lathe
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1878 Oram’s Role in Early Astonomy
1881 Electronic Pioneer
1885 Oram Time Machine
1516 Elm st. Dallas TX
#1 License Plate in Dallas
Oram Family Glass Negatives
Texas Historical Encyclopedia
John Milton Oram annotated biography and lifetime events: This is a written biography of John M Oram’s family history, which features his prominence as an inventor as well as a promoter of the telephone and general electronics. His improvements to the phone include a time signal and the automatic signal heard when a land line is first lifted. Because of his hand made time signal clock keeping impeccable time and time recording devices, his house was selected as the viewing point when there was a total eclipse of the sun. Oram is also known for erecting the first skyscraper in Dallas. He was respected in the city, active in church, and was effective in charities and business rather than conspicuous.
Before the war John M Oram cam to Texas, locating in the Southern part of Dallas county, from which place he enlisted in the Confederate Army, but on his account of his previous experience was soon transferred from active military service to the equally important work of manufacturing arms, cotton and woolen cloth, etc., in the Confederate government’s work at Lancaster. The ancestors of both Oram and Stanford have been pioneers in the new countries, and both are strong races of people.They also have always been devoutly religious people, and have taken a leading part in practical Christianity and done much to influence others in the good works. Besides his widow Mr. Oram is survived by the Following children: Edwin Oram, an electrical engineer of Dallas; John Oram, also and electrical engineer; Stanford Oram, who is a student; and Mrs. Fred C Giebel and Misses Louise and Katherine Oram, all of Dallas.
The late John M Oram came to Texas with his parents when but a boy, the family locating at Lancaster in 1857. His mechanical tastes and original ability were manifested during his youthful years, and found an outlet in his choice of a vocation as jeweler and watchmaker. In order to learn his trade under competent instruction he traveled by stagecoach from Lancaster to New Orleans, and then by steamboat up the Mississippi until he arrived in Indiana, and studied the jeweler’s trade under an uncle. After some years of experience he returned to Dallas in 1871, which city remained his home for over forty years until his death. The first ten years were spent in the jewelry business, and he built up the largest establishment of its kind at the time in Dallas county.
While successful as a businessman, the dominating fact in Mr. Oram’s life was his inventive skill, was almost constantly employed in the study, adaption and perfection of instruments of varied classification, but particularly for use in the telephone and general electrical industries. Mr. Oram constructed and installed the first telephone in Dallas, a line extending from his residence on Cottage Lane to his place of business on Elm Street. That was in 1878, and only two years before, at the Philadelphia Centennial, the first practical public demonstration of the original telephone instrument was made, so that Dallas, as a result of Mr. Oram’s work, was one of the first cities in the country where the telephone was operated as a useful facility for communication.
In 1880 Professor Todd, the distinguished astronomer and scientist of Amherst College came to Dallas to make observations of the total eclipse of the sun. He inquired as to who had the most accurate time in the city, and was referred to Mr. Oram. As a result of their subsequent intercourse a friendship sprang up between the two men, and Professor Todd mentions Mr. Oram in his subsequent book containing the results of his observations in Dallas. Professor Todd erected upon the lawn at Mr. Oram’s residence, a transit pier, which still stands there, and upon which as a base were erected the instruments for taking the observations during the eclipse. Professor Todd paid Mr. Oram the highest compliments for the latters skill and accuracy in marking time-recording instruments. His proficiency in this respect was indeed remarkable.
Mr. Oram’s retirement from the jewelry trade in 1885 was occasioned by his desire to devote himself to perfecting and manufacturing a telephone time signal, which he had invented and sold to the American Bell Telephone Company in Boston. This instrument was very complicated, and in response to the urgings of the telephone people, he became general manager of the company, which manufactured the device. The original time signal clock, which he invented now stands in the hall of his home on Cottage Lane, ticking away, as industriously and as accurately as at the time the model, made by his own hands, was completed years ago. By this device telephone subscribers were enabled to obtain the time by lifting the receiver and hearing an automatic signal. The device was used by the American Bell Telephone Company in Boston, but with the coming of conditions which placed clocks or other timepieces within the reach of almost every one, the general use of the signal by telephone companies was abandoned. Mr. Oram also invented a device which eliminated the old crank system of ringing the telephone, and perfected other inventions to improve services. He invented a testing set for locating and testing leaks on telephone and electric wires, and another electrical device for bank protection against burglars.
Within a few years Mr. Oram returned from Boston to Dallas and became general manager of the Dallas Power and Light Company. At other times he was manager of the Standard Electrical Light Company and of the Dallas Ice Factory, Light and Power Company. Thus he was manager of every electrical light company which has operated in Dallas up to the present time. He was at one manager of an independent long-distance telephone company that established in Dallas.
For some years, during the late ‘80s and the early ‘90s, Mr. Oram was city electrician of Dallas and it is said that during his official service he gained the admiration of all his fellow officials and of every person engaged in the electrical business in Dallas. While city electrician he wrote and published all the rules and regulations for the city’s electrical department.
Among numerous other useful devices invented and improved by him, Mr. Oram perfected a jeweler’s lathe which greatly facilitated work in that trade. He invented and perfected various devices for the telephone, telegraph, talking machines, and other electronically controlled instruments. It is said that a number of years before the linotype machine was known or any other practical device had been invented for mechanical typing, Mr. Oram had given some thought to such a machine, but the business responsibilities which took him away to Boston interfered with his putting his ideas into practice. He also built the Oram building on Elm street, now occupied by W.A. Green & Company. That was one of the first “skyscrapers