BiographyAugust Frey was born in January 1831 in Olten in the canton of Solothurn, north-west Switzerland. After his early education, he went on to study mathematics and natural sciences at the University of Munich and later in Zurich.
Attracted by the exciting new technology of telegraphy, from 1852 Frey learned theoretical and practical aspects of the subject under the instruction of Carl August von Steinheil, a renowned German physicist who was helping to design the Swiss telegraph system. After gaining a first-class qualification, Frey became chief telegrapher at Zofingen, in the canton of Aargau, which was the main exchange point for traffic between east and west Switzerland.
Frey’s skills saw his swift promotion; later in 1852, he took on the post of telegraphic bureau chief at St Gallen. The following year he became provisional inspector of Berne’s telegraphic system, with the appointment confirmed in 1855. The job also carried with it responsibility for the national network. After the two functions were separated in 1869, Frey was named Deputy Director of Switzerland’s Federal Administration of Telegraphs, later becoming the Director in 1872.
Representing Switzerland, Frey participated in the International Telegraph Conferences of 1875 in St Petersburg, 1879 in London and 1885 in Berlin. At the peak of a distinguished career in telecommunications spanning almost forty years, he was appointed Director of the ITU Bureau in February 1890. Sadly, serious illness prevented his attendance at the conference of 1890 held in Paris. He died just over a week after it had ended, without being able to contribute his deep experience and expertise in the burgeoning world of telecommunications.