Dialin’ it Old School: Rotary Phones in Lisbon

When we were at the Museu das Comunicações last month in Lisbon (see Ten Things To Do with Kids in Lisbon), my favourite exhibit was a demonstration of rotary dial telephones and an old telephone switch. I shot a video of Oliver and I taking it out for a ride:

The exhibit is set up with about a dozen rotary telephones, each with its own “phone number.” You dial dial any phone from another. And you can see (and hear) the call being placed on the switch right beside you.

Notice that I have some difficulty actually hanging up the phone — I’m so out of practice. See also Feeling out of time and place, wherein my old friend Sam relates his son’s first experience with a rotary dial phone. He writes, in part:

When I returned a half hour later he was extremely aggravated and upset at me and I couldn’t figure out why until later. As it happens the only phone in the club house area where he was, was rotary dial phone. Max had previously seen one in a museum, but had never had occasion to actually use one. As a result, he had absolutely no clue about how to operate this seemingly straightforward device.

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Cuidado's picture
Cuidado on April 12, 2007 - 09:49

I’ve had a rotary dial phone in use until recently. They use bells, not electronic ringers, and I can hear them better. My kids are all grown now but their friends always wanted to try out the phone and each one had to be taught how to make a call. I thought it was hilarious.

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