Friday, February 21, 2014

Casual Friday: The New Dial Telephone!

Friday, February 21, 2014
Loretta reports:

Once upon a time, in order to make a phone call, you needed to talk to an operator.  I was amazed to learn that in some parts of the U.S. there was no dial service until the 1970s.

This instructional film played in theaters, with no sound except for the usual silent film music, since it's 1927.  It's hard to imagine what a technical undertaking it must have been, converting the phones in large cities—and what an adjustment for callers.

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Anonymous said...

I do rememebr party lines ( not poltical but telephone) It was in the 50's but in many places several phones were on the same line so people had to take turns using the phones. Just like having many phones in a house today except these phones were in different houses. Quite a bit of eavesdropping went on.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I spent a year with relatives in a rural community in the 1950s, and they were on a party line -- a new experience for a city girl like me. When someone called the house, each house had a specific ring: 2 rings for one house, 3 for another, etc. I can't remember how many were on the line, but quite a few: 6, maybe, maybe even 8. And anonymous is right: quite a bit of eavesdropping went on. Everyone knew who had just been called and who to listen in on.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, indeed. I remember these things at least by late 60s to mid-70s.

One was that early phone numbers used the letters to sort of "name" the number, if that makes sense. My mother had phone numbers in her address book that read OL43562 and it was read "Oliver 43562". That might harken back to when you picked up the phone and gave the number to a live operator.

Mom was from a very rural community in FL (between Jacksonville and Gainesville, so nothing to do with beaches --we're talking cattle and fishing camp areas). As late as 1976 or so my grandparents had a party line. I remember picking up the phone to use it and being so confused that other people were having a conversation. Or hearing it ring and they'd answer then immediately hang up because it wasn't for them.

This was all very strange to a girl growing up in Washington DC at the time. We had no such goings on there by then...

Pamela S. Meyers said...

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. We had a "central operator" to place our local and long distance calls until sometime in the 50s. California must have been very advanced! We had a four-digit number when we used a central operator, and when we got dial, it went to 8-and the same four numbers. Later the prefix "Chestnut" was added to the phone number and that eventually became 248 and then the four digits. The whole time my parents lived in the town they always had the four original numbers.

During high school I worked as a telephone operator for my part-time job. The clip of the information operators didn't look much different in the 60s than it did in the movie. :-)

Glenda said...

My Grandmother lived outside of Toledo (about an hour away). Even in the mid 90s she still had a party line. It could be very interesting calling her. Once one of her neighbors felt compelled to join in the conversation. :-D

Hels said...

I bought a beautiful 1908 candlestick telephone at an antique auction house, very like the phone in your photo. The phone still worked well, so I placed it on the bed side table, in front of the bedroom window.

Within one week, a thief broke a hole in the glass, pulled my gorgeous candle stick telephone out into the street and left. I was heart broken.

norm said...

We had a phone with a crank on the side for ringing up the operator down at the switchboard in town until 1961 in Orangeville Ohio. We had a party line phone until the mid-seventies. I haven't had a landline in ten years.

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