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1963 – Attack of the Killer Rotary Phones

A phone for every room in your house

1963 Bell Telephone Ad Father and Daughter with Giant Rotary Desk Phone behind them

Gather around children and I will tell you about a time long ago when the only purpose of a phone was to call someone. You had to remember the phone number of the person you were calling and then use a wheel to dial the numbers. The phone was attached to something called a phone line in your house. In today’s world, we call this a landline.

You had to use the phone inside your house and you could only go as far as the cord would take you.

1963 Bell Telephone Ad – Giant Wall Phone

You could have a phone in different rooms of the house and put the phone on a desk, table, or wall. To listen in to a conversation, all you had to do was pick up a phone in another room in the house.

If you needed help with a call, you would just dial 0 and a person called an operator would help you.

Princess Phone – Bell Telephone Ad – April 1963 Good Housekeeping

If you were really lucky, you had a phone in your bedroom. If you wanted to make a call and someone else was already using the phone, you had to wait. You could only make one call at a time.


Living’s as easy as 1-2-3 with Extension Phones to Save your Family Time and Steps

Bell Telephone System Ad showing a desk, wall, and princess phone in different colors

This ad appeared in the April 1963 edition of Good Housekeeping magazine. I found the ad a bit humorous. It reminded me of the mid-century cult movie from 1954 called Them where tiny ants grew into giants and terrorized a small town.

If you are like me, and you enjoy thinking about technology through the years, you are amazed and delighted about knowing how phone technology has changed. My own parents experienced most all of the mainstream changes in their lifetime. My father started life in a rural small town where his family used a community telephone, and ended life as a smart phone user. His 90th birthday wish was to have a smartphone which he could put in his pocket so he could look like the cool kids do. He never actually conquered using the phone, but he did look cool with the phone in his back pocket. My mom’s community doesn’t even offer landlines. Apparently the local phone company’s infrastructure is no longer built in new communities.

My children experienced the different variations of modern landline phones, but never rotary phones. Our phones were wireless with automatic dialers and we were lucky enough to use some of the early cell phones when they were young. My young grandchildren know instinctively how to use all aspects of the phone and think that visiting their grandparents through a small screen is normal, and not the mind-boggling miracle that I think it is.

2 comments on “1963 – Attack of the Killer Rotary Phones

  1. Pingback: 1954 – AT&T – Mid-Century Page

  2. Pingback: 1956 – Phones at the Table – Mid-Century Page

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