Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Rotary Dial

Over the weekend a friend visited and we sprawled on the floor of the sunroom catching up about everything and nothing, enjoying the warmth from the sun, a good friendship. The phone rang and I answered. Being a city council campaign robocall, I bailed quickly.

My friend laughed and laughed hard. I felt perplexed. He asked me what that thing was I just answered. The fifteen-year age difference became very apparent; I replied it was a rotary dial phone--still a blank face. I exclaimed, “You’re acting as if a message just arrived on the Pony Express!”

This rotary dial phone has logged more hours on it than many cell and portable phones combined. Why? Unlike today’s phones they were built to last. My thirty-five-year-old phone works great, never runs out of batteries, and thanks to its two-foot curly cord, is easy to find, always. The phone sounds great and even sports a flower I painted on it years ago in the dorm.

But--should you call me, please don’t expect to press 1 to speak; 2 to leave a message; or 3 to send a text message. 

No can do on the rotary phone.

Interesting Facts:

*The earliest form of the rotary dial used lugs on a finger plate instead of holes and was granted a patent in 1898.
*The “modern” version of the rotary dial entered the Bell System in 1919.
*The touch tone phone was introduced in the early 1960s and largely replaced the rotary dial.
* Oddly, rotary phones still occasionally find important uses. For instance, the anti-drug coalition of the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C., persuaded the phone company to install rotary dials in area pay phones. The goal was to damper the drug trade, since the dials could not be used to call dealers' pagers.

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