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We could go on and on about how to use a rotary phone, but then we wouldn't have a reason to embed this unintentionally comical 1 minute how-to video (you're welcome):
Invented:1904 (rotary dial), 1919 (first rotary phone)
William Gray invented the pay phone in 1889, and by 1902, some 81,000 pay phones were scattered across the U.S. But it wasn't until 1905 that the first outdoor phone booth would come to fruition, protecting callers from the elements (and nosy Nellies).
Outdoor phone booths have become nearly non-existent since their heyday, and no one is more bummed about this than Clark Kent.
As AT&T tells it, a truck driver in St. Louis, Mo. made history when he reached underneath his truck's dash and made the first mobile telephone call. That was in 1946, and by 1948, wireless telephone service had swept through nearly 100 cities and highway corridors. Car phones weren't intended for regular Joes, and instead were used by utilities, truck fleet operators, and reporters.
A bargain by today's standards, the service ran $15 per month, or less than a basic OnStar account. Customers were also charged a per usage fee ranging from 30 to 40 cents per local call.
"Improved technology after 1965 brought a few more channels, customer dialing, and eliminated the cumbersome handset," AT&T explains. "But capacity remained so limited that Bell System officials rationed the service to 40,000 subscribers guided by agreements with state regulatory agencies. For example, 2,000 subscribers in New York City shared just 12 channels, and typically waited 30 minutes to place a call. It was wireless, but with 'strings' attached."
We see what you did there, AT&T.
The Model 500 would become the standard Bell System telephone after it was introduced in 1949 and is arguably the most recognized design still today. You'll notice we skipped several models in between the Candlestick and Model 500, and that's because the Model 500 represents the end of an evolutionary chain before touch-tone took over.
Image Credit: theinvisibleagent.wordpress.com
Millions of Model 500 phones were produced between 1949 to 1984 -- more than any other dial telephone, which is one reason they're still around today. Don't believe it? Then you haven't been visiting your grandparents - tsk, tsk.
Apple's iPhone 3GS weighs less than 0.3 pounds. To put this into perspective, the first fully automatic mobile phone system weighed a whopping 88 pounds. That's equivalent to almost 300 iPhones!
Image Credit: Ericsson
Because of its size and weight, calling the MTA "mobile" was a bit of a misnomer, and it usually found permanent installation in a vehicle. Only a few hundred were ever made; they were commercially released in Sweden in 1956. Though it was heavy and unwieldy, the MTA didn't require any manual control.
Remarkably, the cordless phone was conceived as far back as 1956, even though phones wouldn't shed their tails for about another three decades. Dr. Raymond P. Phillips Sr., an African American inventor from Texas, came up with the idea, but due to the racial tensions of the time, he wasn't actually recognized as the inventor by the U.S. and European patent offices until 1987.
Image Credit: howstuffworks.com
in 1969, George Sweigert improved upon the concept and patented a "full duplex wireless communications apparatus." But it was Sony that brought the first cordless phones to market in the 1980s. By the mid-80s, cordless phones exploded in popularity, but there was a problem: Cordless phones were given a frequency of 27MHz, and while this gave them decent range, the sound quality was pretty poor. You also ran the risk of crossing over onto someone else's conversation that was within range, and if that happened, you had to return your phone for one on a different channel (early cordless phones came with one of 10 channels), or learn more about your neighbors than you cared to know.
Image Credit: Best Buy
The FCC would later change the frequency to 47-49MHz. This led to better sound quality with less noise, but it wasn't until 1990 that cordless phones began using the 900MHz frequency. This was a huge leap in sound quality and distance, and cordless phones also came with 100 different channels to choose from.
Today's cordless phones operate mostly operate on the 2.4GHz and, more recently, 5.8GHz frequencies.