Classic Rotary Phones Forum

Telephone Talk => General Discussion => Topic started by: david@london on November 14, 2015, 01:57:28 PM

Title: Introduction of TouchTone Dialling - 52nd anniversary
Post by: david@london on November 14, 2015, 01:57:28 PM
....from a feature in today's Independent (UK) newspaper -

"...In an early promotional film for push-button phones, a girl and a boy stumble across an exhibit at the Seattle World's Fair that's dedicated to this brand new way of making calls. "OK," says the boy, "I'll race ya!" He uses the traditional rotary dial while she keys in the numbers. She, of course, wins effortlessly, and they skip away hand in hand.

 This week in 1963, touch-tone phones were offered to the public for the first time; the Pennsylvania towns of Carnegie and Greensburg would be the guinea pigs.

 The now familiar 1-2-3 telephone keypad was the brainchild of John E Karlin, an industrial psychologist who had persuaded his bosses at Bell Laboratories that human testing could yield better telephone design. The earliest mechanical calculators had tended to be arranged with the smallest numbers nearest to the user, and this idea was cemented in 1914 with inventor David Sundstrand's 10-key keypad the system now used on all calculators and computer keyboards. But Karlin wasn't convinced that this was the best arrangement, and he began to test alternatives on Bell employees. 

 Sixteen different keypads were trialled, including the calculator arrangement, columns and rows of five numbers each, and various circular designs that emulated a rotary dial. The 1-2-3 keypad was the runaway winner; the 7-8-9 calculator arrangement didn't even make the top five. The story goes that Bell Laboratories contacted the biggest calculator manufacturers to share their research findings, but only received bemused shrugs in response; none of them had ever done any user testing.

 There's an apocryphal story that the keypad was upturned to stop skilled calculator operators entering phone numbers too quickly. Klein's arrangement is now used on ATMs, door locks, vending machines and medical equipment a prime example of data-driven design."

Title: Re: Introduction of TouchTone Dialling - 52nd anniversary
Post by: jsowers on November 14, 2015, 07:22:36 PM
Here are some examples of those prototype sets with different key arrangement... (
Touch-Tone went in the week before John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas on 11-22-63, which kind of overshadowed any other news story in its day.
I also remember the day the small school central office building I worked in went from rotary to touch-tone in 1984 and all the bookkeepers kept getting wrong numbers until they realized they were dialing the same way they used the calculator. They eventually got used to it. It was interesting to see them fly keying in numbers on that calculator too. This was before computers took hold. They only had one IBM PC at the time.
Title: Re: Introduction of TouchTone Dialling - 52nd anniversary
Post by: Phonesrfun on November 14, 2015, 08:33:49 PM
I was 11 years old in 1962, and I distinctly remember being awed at the touch tone display at the Bell System pavilion at the Seattle World's Fair.  Later when it came to our area in 1969 we actually got one.
Title: Re: Introduction of TouchTone Dialling - 52nd anniversary
Post by: Jim Stettler on November 14, 2015, 09:01:05 PM
When I was in Kindergarten  (1966-67), Bell brought a tele-trainer  (console style with the light up emblem) setup to my class.
It was a green Teletrainer with a green 500 set and a green 1500 set. I thought the teletrainer was very cool.

 Years later a buddy of mine found a green teletrainer at a thrift shop on his Birthday. Since my birthday is 4 days after his he bought it for me as a birthday gift. The Samsonite case is labeled #1.There is a very good chance it was the same teletrainer I played with years earlier.
I have been told by former Mountain Bell employees that they did some test marketing of 10 button sets in Colorado Springs. I have never tracked down any official documentation to verify that. However I have found several 10 button sets at yard sales and thrift stores in Colorado Springs.
Earlier this month I was going thru some 10 button sets and found a green 1500 6-66 with a long cord ( this set came from a local thrift store). I always suspected this set might be a teletrainer set so I hooked it up and tried ringing it. It rung with the teletrainer  which made me very happy.


BTW: This style of teletrainer  has dial tone, busy and  ring buttons. It used standard telephones with 25' 4 conductor line cords. The sets were rewired to have the ringer on the second pair. This was to keep ring current from being introduced over the talk circuit when kids were playing with the teletrainer.
Title: Re: Introduction of TouchTone Dialling - 52nd anniversary
Post by: compubit on November 16, 2015, 07:00:00 PM
I was born in Denver in 1966. According to my dad, they had Touch Tone service in Denver, then back to Rotary when they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska for about a year and a half.  When we moved to Houston in 1969, we were back to Touch Tone.

I can imagine my mom with her 1554 wall phone in the kitchen around the time is was born. I have no idea what color, but am sure it coordinated with the decor. When we moved to Houston (and since) it was always white.  First house in Houston had a white 2554 and a white 2702. Second house had 2 white 2220 Trimlines - wall in the kitchen, desk in the bedroom. Third house in Houston had 3 white Trimline desk sets (kitchen, master bedroom and office).

In 79, we moved to the Dallas area (GTE territory) and I was depressed phone-wise - I could see Southwestern Bell territory from my house, but no go... (Of course that didn't stop me from visiting the Bell Phone Center Store in the mall...).

I've always had Touch Tone service as long as I can remember (except for the first week I went to college - Dad signed me up for service, since he already had service with GTE, and didn't think to have them add Touch Calling service on the line. We got back to the apartment and the phones wouldn't dial out. A quick trip back to the GTE Phone Mart to correct it, but since the line had already been activated, there was a backlog for Touch Calling, thus the week-long wait - and an ash Stromberg Carlson compact rotary wall phone - long since lost...)


Title: Re: Introduction of TouchTone Dialling - 52nd anniversary
Post by: Jim Stettler on November 16, 2015, 08:51:54 PM
The first house I remember with TT calling was in 1973-74. A buddy of mine had it at his house and he liked to show it off. Since I had already seen a 1500 It wasn't that big of a deal. I sure was surprised when I saw their phone. It was a yellow 2554. For years I wanted to know the purpose of the other 2 buttons.
Title: Re: Introduction of TouchTone Dialling - 52nd anniversary
Post by: andre_janew on November 17, 2015, 12:29:24 PM
Actually, for many years, those other two buttons had no purpose.  Now they are used for different services like Call Return (*69) and there are certain automated systems that use those buttons.
Title: Re: Introduction of TouchTone Dialling - 52nd anniversary
Post by: Jim Stettler on November 17, 2015, 01:21:00 PM
I think it was the late 80's/early 90's when they finally had any service for (*,#) in my area. The first system I used was offered thru a local TV station. It had a TT menu, to access various recordings. I used to use it to test TT pads and dials.

I had 2 phone lines   I would use them to test ringers, I used to bother friends and family testing dials. Once I started using the service I could test TT pads and dials 24/7 without bothering anyone.
ISTR it was 011 for * and 012 for # when using a dial.