While reading on the Web recently, I noticed that a "Today in History" page said that Aug. 20 was the anniversary of the patent of the dial telephone.
After a great deal of rather complicated reading, I learned that the dial was more than a simple means to put the number into the phone. The invention of the dial was key to being able to link 1,000 telephone numbers together in an exchange that would let people talk to more people throughout an area.
That is a rough, rough, compression of the history of the dial phone. The patent went to the Charles and John Erickson in 1898.
Thinking about that made me wonder how many people reading this today ever used a dial or rotary phone? By the time my family had our first phone in the late 1980s, they had been replaced by the push button phone.
My great-grandparents Doc and Olivia Henry had a dial phone that worked on a party line. We would go stay with them out by Lake Texoma back in the early 1980s.
Before then, I had not lived in a house with a phone so I didn’t think anything of them waiting to answer the phone until it had rang a certain number of times. And I didn’t think much of my great-grandmother talking about having to get off of the phone so other people could have the line.
Now, could you imagine if people had to share lines today? I mean could you even imagine if we were all still using dial-up internet.
One of the sites I visited while looking this information up gave particularly important developments for journalism and the dial phone was listed there. It should a clip from the movie, "His Girl Friday" where a woman used such a device to call into a newsroom.
That remembered me of the first couple of stories I covered after I had a cell phone. One of which was an election. I remember having to go to the county courthouse and stand there while ballots were counted. The clerk brought out the tally and my job was to read it off into the phone so someone at the paper could take it all down and get it in the paper that night. I remember being so scared I would get something wrong because all I had was my notebook and a phone.
Now, I can sometimes go whole days of reporting without writing very much down on paper at all. It all goes in my phone either via text or recording of some sort. I wonder what the children who returned to school this week will be using to communicate 25 years from now?