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The 1950s guide to using a rotary dial phone

Mon, 08/26/2013 - 2:00pm
Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor

As we grow accustomed to the newest versions of smart phones, computers, and tablets, it’s sometimes difficult to remember their humble beginnings. Luckily, it’s also sometimes hilarious.

This is a video that explains how to use a rotary phone to make a call. While it’s somewhat funny to watch now, it’s also a little funny to think about the fact that in a short time, kids will watch this video and might not understand why it’s so funny. It will just be another old-people technology. It’s an interesting overarching reflection on the idea of what happens to obsolete technology once the main generation or generations that used it the most have passed on.

Anecdotally, a friend of mine manages a group of pools. One day, a young boy asked to use the phone, was directed to the land-line office phone, and was shocked to hear the dial-tone, which prompted him to ask my friend, “What is that noise?” The world wept.

It’s a very basic video, which speaks to what a crazy, new invention the rotary phone was. It’s interesting to consider what these videos will be about 60 years from now. Maybe 3D printing will take off and future generations will laugh at our simple attempts to use the machines they use every day. Maybe it won’t take off and they’ll laugh at our ineffective technology as they make dinner in the replicator. Let's just hope whatever happens, these manuals survive.

At the end of the day, it’s really just important to listen to the woman from your telephone company, “Follow these suggestions and you will save time and be pleased with the use and convenience of your dial telephone.”

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