Saturday, July 23, 2011

Telephones - Then and Now

I'm amazed at technology. And how it changes over time. I was driving today in my new car and my phone rang. Since my cell phone is linked to my iDrive system in my car, the ringing came over the car speakers and my readout on the information center on the dash showed who the call was from. I pressed a button on my steering wheel and answered the call. I also have a blog about my experiences with the new car HERE in case you're interested in new car technology. But let's get back to the subject at hand.

Now, let's compare a talking car with a high tech phone system to what we used to have. We were actually pretty primitive in comparison. When I was a kid, we had a black phone with a wire that ran into the wall. Cell phones and wireless technology and bluetooth hadn't been thought of yet. In fact, our phones had mechanical, analog dials on them. Rotary dials, we called them. And we had phone numbers with names, like CLifton 7, or DRexel 4, BUtterfield 8, and others.

We also had something interesting called "party lines." It was kind of a Twitter of the fifties. The necessity of these party lines was probably due to the fact that the phone company didn't have enough lines installed to give everyone their own private line. And when the phone rang, you had to listen to the ring and see if it was yours before answering it. Ours was a long and a short ring. If you wanted to make an outgoing call, you picked up the receiver and checked to see if there was a party liner already using the phone. If so, good manners told you to hang up and check later. If not, you could go ahead and make your call.

In 1959 things started improving dramatically when ATT introduced the new Princess Phone. Contemporary advertising shows that this telephone was marketed to women, hence the feminine designation 'Princess'. A broad range of colors were offered, including pink, red, yellow, moss green, black, white, beige, ivory, light blue, turquoise, and gray. And four years later, in 1963, Western Electric introduced touchtone dialing which replaced the rotary dial with 10 lighted push buttons. We were in the modern age now. Everyone eventually got their own private line and the party line became a thing of the past.

In time the Princess was redesigned and became the Trimline phone. You may remember these as the slim units with the push button dial built into the handset.


Pat Coffey said...

the Princess phone was NOT redesigned to become the Trimline both the bedroom phone and the dial in handset phone (as the Princess and Trimline were known during their developmental stages) were concieved and designed simultaneously in the 1950's After the Trimlines introduction in 1965 the Princess and it were made simultaneously for years

Pat Coffey said...

Oh and Trimline phones could also be ahd wtih rotary dial right into the 1980s as well

Computer for Dummies said...

thanks for sharing information about the history of the telephone.