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An electronic switching system (ESS) in telecommunications is a telephone switch which helps in establishing phone calls with the help of computerized systems capable of interconnecting telephone circuits and digital electronics. The invention of the transistor helped in the development of electronic switching systems. The electronic switching system is capable of troubleshooting on its own and can identify problems. However, it needs well-trained resources to monitor and maintain the systems. Modern telephone exchanges make use of ESS, which allows quick call establishment and call release.
In an electronic switching system, control of switching functions are programmatically added to the memory and the related actions are run with help of the controlling processor. There are mainly two types of electronic switching systems: centralized stored program control and distributed stored program control. In centralized stored program control, a single processor is used for the exchange functionality. In distributed stored program control, there is no single or central processor for the overall function. It rather makes use of a small number of processors to perform the task.
Electronic switching systems make use of the concepts of the electronic data processor and operate with the help of high-speed switching networks and under the instructions from a stored-control program. The stored-control program controls the sequencing and call routing of operations for creating a call in the electronic switching system.
Before the advent of electronic switching, manual switching was used in telephone switches. The first generation of electronic switching systems, in the 1950s, used reed relay-operated metallic paths operated with the help of stored-program control systems. The later generation of electronic switching systems digitized analog signals and processed the resulting output for transmission between the central offices. The time-division-multiplexing technology allowed significant capacity improvements for the telephone network. The Number One Electronic Switching system of the Bell system was the first large-scale electronic switching system and was introduced in Succasunna, New Jersey, Unites States in 1965.
Manual switching had the big disadvantages of limited lifetime as well as slow operational speed for the electromechanical component. These were overcome with the advent of the electronic switching system.