Available Now – A Rotary Cell Phone For Seniors
This might not mean anything if you are under 40 or thereabouts, but back in the day, we didn’t have the convenience of push button digital phones like we do nowadays, we had rotary phones.
There was no other choice all those years ago. The digital phone had not yet been invented, so all we had was those lovely rotary dial phones, and it took forever to dial a number, especially if the phone or your finger slipped, and you ended up dialing the wrong number.
Back then there was:
- NO auto-redial – you had to dial the whole number again manually.
- NO address book – except the one you wrote in. Half the time you couldn’t read the number, or it was out of date and you kept forgetting to update it
- NO voicemail or text – if you missed a call there was no way to know.
And so in honor of the phones of yesteryear, here is a phone that us seniors (or at least us old enough to remember) can identify with…
I remember those days well enough, being practically a senior myself these days. Well actually, since I first published this back in 2010, I have now become a senior myself…
This phone is like the one that I grew up with. In later years you could get other colours, but back in the 1950’s and 1960’s phones were similar to the Model T Ford – any colour you like – as long as it’s black!
If you couldn’t remember the phone number that you needed to call, you used to have to prop the address book open so you could see the number. Then you had to wedge the handset between your head and your ear so you could listen while dialing. But worst of all was that if your finger slipped, or you didn’t dial a long digit (9 or 0) quite right, the phone dialed the wrong digit and you ended up calling the wrong number.
My Gran kept her phone in the hallway on a wooden table, as many people did, and had a doily underneath it to protect the table. Unfortunately, the table, being well polished, made it very easy for the phone to slip while you were dialing. So, it was necessary to use one hand to dial, while the other kept the phone in a “vice-like” grip to stop it moving and causing a misdial.
No caller-id either in those days, so not only did you regularly misdial calls, you quite often received calls that were misdialed as well.
I guess it made life interesting, but back then we did learn to remember most of the common numbers that we needed to dial off by heart. Nowadays most people struggle to remember their own number!
By the late 1970’s in the UK, the rotary phone was being replaced by push button phones. Initially these looked the same as the old rotary phones, they just had push buttons instead, and when you pressed a button, it would still dial an analogue signal in the same way.
Then came a revolution, a whole new design of phone, the Trimphone! Instead of a bell ringing, the Trimphone made a horrible electronic ringing sound. You could however adjust the volume of the ring, using a lever underneath the phone. Wow how amazing this new technology was! Actually though, if you turned the phone upside down and looked, all the lever did was to cover over the hole that the sound came out of, effectively blocking the sound. Ingenious, or so I thought back then.
Also, as the phone company gradually replaced the old analogue telephone exchanges by digital ones, on some of the newer phones you could switch the method of dialing from analogue to digital. So, instead of pressing the dial buttons and listening to the analogue dialing for a good 10 seconds or more, you had a multi-tone beeping for about a second and BINGO you could hear the phone ringing at the other end of the line.
Can you still remember the first telephone number you had? I can, and it had the name of the exchange as well, not an area code! The number has been gone for about 50 years, so if you try to call “Canford Cliffs 77459” it’s unlikely you will get an answer.
Do you have any fold memories of the rotary/dial phones, or just using phones years ago that you would like to share? If so, please leave a comment.
Rotary phone image used under a Collective Commons License from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rotaryphone2.JPG
Trimphone image used under a Collective Commons License from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trimphone.jpg