The development of the French telephone “system” 2 between 1879 and 1979 presented a kind of paradox: For although France was a powerful nation alongside the other economically developed countries, the state of its telephone technology was relatively inferior and the standard of equipment was a long way from the standard of such countries as the U.S. and Sweden and not even as high as the standard in Germany and Great Britain. This anomaly makes research into the historical development of the French telephone system interesting - especially when it is studied within a comparative perspective of the development of large technical systems. One should ask why this inferior standard of telecommunications should exist in France considering the fact that with respect to the general economic development France was equal to countries such as England and Germany. The reasons for this have to be found on the one hand within the sociological and political components of the development of these large telephone networks, and on the other hand in the way in which the national community allows for state intervention into the economic sphere.