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Modern telephone service for the home. (1920)

Started by HELLO CENTRAL, August 25, 2011, 08:21:13 AM

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ON THE page opposite is pictured a modern American reaching out for a
friend. He does not keep his means of access to others in the back hall or
in a closet under the stairs. His particular telephone is on the table by his
easy'chair. He has the means of friendly communication ready at hand.
There are several other telephones in his home, for he recognises that he
lives in modern times. He knows that the members of his household use the
telephone four or five times as often as they write letters, and that they also
receive many more communications by telephone than by mail. He recog'
nizes that the .modern American spirit finds expression in the fullest use of
the myriad time-saving, labor-saving devices of which the motor-car and the
telephone are the foremost examples.
The restful spirit of today demands the conveniences of living that multiply
the individual's activities and widen their scope. The modern home
is fully equipped with the means for living in the modern manner. The
value oi such equipment—and especially of the telephone as an agency of
persQnal communication—is being measured more and more in terms of its
accessibility to all whose lives are made more profitable, more productive,
more comfortable in proportion to its availability.
The modern concept of comfortable living requires a logical relationship
between the interests and activities of a household and the number of telephones it should have. Interest in the world outside, in school or church,
in clubs and neighbors, in shops at home, or friends far distant, requires a
reasonable accessibility to the telephones. . .


Lots of good advice in there -- like having a phone installed in the kitchen so that the servants can answer the phone instantly and conveniently, and having a jack on the sun porch into which you could plug a phone if you want the car brought around.

These people don't live like I do! ;-)

Stephen Furley

In those days, if you could afford to have a telephone at home you probably would have had servants.


In the US, telcos marketed various optional services & conveniences to the wealthy, and used the added revenue to cross-subsidize basic service to make it affordable to the working class. 

That's why this brochure is for the most part pitched toward the well-to-do of that era: they could afford all the extras, so Joe Workingman could at least have a basic phone.   

From a technical standpoint, it has basically one message: plan ahead before you build, to have conduits and wiring and outlets installed anywhere you might ever want a phone. 

Telcos kept repeating that message right up through deregulation, because doing inside wiring in a furnished home is a monumental hassle of large magnitude.  Under the rate structures in most areas, there were fixed installation prices per jack or per extension, so installing in a furnished house was always a big loss due to the added time compared to installing when the walls are open during construction.  On the other hand, installing during construction also encouraged more jacks and more phones, turning the situation from loss to profit. 

In that brochure you see a transitional period between desk stands and handsets, with at least two generations of each shown.  Often the desk stands are hiding in cabinets, since at the time they were considered ungainly and businesslike, somewhat out of place in home decor, compared to the handset types.