Phones have changes a lot since the very first one patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. His original design had a bulky design with a neck piece you talk into and then a knob style piece you hold to your ears. This amazing technology caught public interest quickly. In just the first year, 3000 phones were installed corporately. These originals were big, heavy wall mounted wooden boxes that the user had to crank. These were installed in large public areas and were shared by whole communities of people. There were telephone operators that would run the first phones and get messages or calls out to others for a caller.
The development of “Candlestick” telephones, as they were called, came along only 15 or so years later. These were much more convenient as they could sit on any flat surface like a desk or table top. Advancements like this doubled the amount of phones that were installed. This type of communication started to spread like wildfire. So much faster to communicate this way than snail mail which could take weeks to get from place to place.
Just about 15 years after that, rotary phones were the next big advancement and they changed several times over their glory days. They went from elegant, elbow necked designs to what you see in this picture. Rotary style phones were used into the mid 1990s. It is amazing how quickly technology changes and phases out of our knowledge banks. There is a funny video about two teenage boys that have the hardest time figuring out how to use the rotary phone. (Check it out here.) Watching them fiddle with it really made me feel old. I remember using one as a kid. Ours was installed on the wall and it had a super long cord. I would call my friends and twist myself all up in the cord talking. Those were the good old days….
Touch-tone phones came about in the mid-1960s. These phones didn’t take off and run like the other styles had. There were many who enjoyed the rotary style and didn’t make the plunge into touch-tone right away. I, personally, love the look of the rotary and they were so fun to dial. One advantage to the touch-tone was quicker dialing. This became important for reaching emergency response with a situation. There were less dialing errors and quicker answer time.
Now, lets leap to the side and talk a bit about cellular phones. If you didn’t follow the history, it would seem that cell phones came out after the touch-tone, right? You would be wrong in that assumption. The first real mobile phones were on trains in the 1920s. By the 1970s, the first handheld phones were sold to businesses by Motorola who was, at that time, a tech giant. Ten years later they were available to the general public. These first cell phones only allowed for 30 minutes of talk time and were ridiculously expensive. Only the rich and famous could get these beauties. By the end of the 1980s, flip phones came about and by the mid-1990’s got into the hands of the general public.
Fast forward to now. Cell phones are in the hands of almost everyone. Even kids as old as 2 can be seen carrying them, playing games and watching videos. It is hard to believe that so much has changed within my lifetime. I remember the days of no cell phones. The super rich had them in their cars but we didn’t. I remember the first time the internet was released and AOL dial up. That is a sound that is ingrained in my very being. So, are landlines obsolete with the up-rise of this every developing technology? 27% of my followers claimed to still have some sort of landline. That is a huge decrease from just 10 years ago. We personally had a landline until just 4 years ago. The cost became too great to keep it with the price increases in digital advancement.
What will the future of technology hold? My prediction is that in 10 years, landlines will be obsolete and everything will have moved to digital including everything we have that is key access. We are already seeing so much move to key-less entry, code entry or bio-metric capabilities. My generation is really truly a unique one. We have seen the largest span of technological advancements of any generation and I just wonder if any after us will know the vast changes we have experiences. What were some major changes you have seen or lived in your lifetime? What made the biggest impression on you? I would love to hear it in the comments!