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The White House never had a red phone

Apart from avoiding worldwide destruction, there was one other silver lining to the Cuban Missile Crisis: it persuaded the two nuclear superpowers that they had to find a better way to communicate.

Even though the idea of a proscribed diplomatic communication system had been discussed in the past, especially in the years since Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953it took the Crisis itself to bring the idea to fruition. Both nations were inspired to reduce the risk of another confrontation; picking up a phone seemed like a good idea. Such technology was not available, however. The best that could be done was the installation of two terminal points with teletype equipment, a full-time duplex wire telegraph circuit and a full-time radiotelegraph circuit. To allow for this system, Soviet and American negotiators produced a memorandum, “Regard the Establishment of a Direct Communications Link.”

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