Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How People Lived: The Dial Telephone

Several years ago, I used to babysit my old roommate's son, Matt. He and I always got along well and I was happy to do so. One day, I was babysitting him and he had to contact his mom, so I showed him my telephone.

It was an old, wall-mounted rotary dial telephone that had conveyed with my condo. As Matt was six or seven at the time, he had never seen a dial phone before and he looked at it as if it were ancient technology...which, of course, it was. Fortunately, my girlfriend was with us, and she let him borrow her cell phone, which he dialed as if he had been using one all his life.

Which, of course, he had.

It wasn't always like that. I'm sure you've seen the old movies/tv shows where someone holds an earpiece to their ear, turns a crank several times, and yells into the wall-mounted microphone, "Operator! Get me..." and they'd give a number...or probably a city, which would connect you to a party line and the fun would really start.

In the 1920's, the phone company started to do away with the crank phones and introduced dial phones...but like Matt, no one knew how to use one.

At midnight on Saturday, May 28, 1927, the city of Fresno was converting to dial telephones, so the phone company released this public service announcement to the local theaters, to teach people how to use that brand-new piece of equipment...the dial telephone.

1 comment:

Ted said...


I was born in Fresno, although not quite that far back. :D

Also, I noticed that the cartoon in the film looks like it was drawn by George McManus, who did the classic comic strip "Bringing Up Father" (aka "Maggie and Jiggs").