Thursday, June 30, 2011

Telephony

  I am not old enough to remember using an operator to make a local call.  My earliest memories of telephones was being on a 'party line'.  That is where you actually shared the telephone line with another person or persons.  You still had your own phone number, but only one of the users could be on it at a time (in theory).  Each user had their own unique ring and only answered the phone when they heard their ring.  It might be a long ring, pause, and another long ring.  Or two short rings, pause, and two short rings again.  The disadvantage was only being able to use the phone when no one else was on it, and, of course, the most obvious was the lack of privacy.
  Back then, all phones were the clickety dial phone.  The big difference between then and now was the fact that there was only ONE phone for the entire home.  Can you imagine?  Often times it was on the kitchen wall, but sometimes in the living room.  It was normal to have your phone number begin with a word.  I guess it was suppose to help you remember it, I dunno.  They were always cutesy, homey words like Idlewood.  So the number would be the first two letters of the word and then the rest of the number, such as ID9-1597.
  My grandmother had a red phone in the hallway.  Red phones were uncommon, black being the standard.  As I had mentioned before, we have fourteen phones in the house, three wired, eight cordless and three cellular.  In some circles I am considered mad.  Maybe a Shrink would say that I am trying to overcompensate for a one phone childhood.
  Today, utility poles or underground conduits carry most telephone circuits in large cables with many conductors inside.  These are giving way to fiber optic cables.  In the early days, the circuits were carried individually over many unsightly wires strung between numerous glass insulators.
  I recently conceded to upgrading my cellular phone to a 'smart' phone.  I think they are called 'smart' phones because the cellular industry is smart enough to create a way for people to want one.  Once I become accustomed to it and learn all, or at least some, of its features, I will probably not be able to live without it.  The question is, do I need all that information always readily available at my fingertips, or would I rather wish for the days when I listened for my unique ring in my one phone house?

Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three - and paradise is when you have none. - Doug Larson

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