Friday, November 17All That Matters

In 1962 the Bell System introduced Touch Tone (push button) dialing vs rotary dial to the world. – 1962

In 1962 the Bell System introduced Touch Tone (push button) dialing vs rotary dial to the world. – 1962

In 1962 the Bell System introduced Touch Tone (push button) dialing vs rotary dial to the world. – 1962
byu/topcat5 inOldSchoolCool

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  • topcat5

    It would not become available until ~1964 when the first electronic switching office #1ESS was installed. In 1968 the Bell System saw the potential of this new technology and added the * & # to either side of the 0.

    That same dial, now also in virtual form, is still used today by many billions of people daily.

  • superkoning

    and this was based on DTMF?

    “DTMF was known throughout the Bell System by the trademark Touch-Tone. The term was first used by AT&T in commerce on July 5, 1960, and was introduced to the public on November 18, 1963, when the first push-button telephone was made available to the public.”

    Looks like it. Quite impressive they could make DMTF generators and detectors for (apparently) a reasonable price.

    BTW: we had dial phone deep into the 1980’s

  • TenPoundSledge

    Touch tone was another $1 a month added to your phone bill. That is why my family had dial phones still in 1985. We had a cordless extension phone by then but it still pulsed like a dial phone to make calls.

  • FratBoyGene

    I worked in telecom for 25 years. A couple of things:

    One company I worked for, MITEL, started by building ‘tone-to-pulse’ convertors. This was a small circuit board, installed at the central office, that would receive the DTMF (Touchtone) signals from your phone and then translate them to the required number of rotary pulses.

    This little innovation let the telcos offer the desirable touchtone feature to consumers without having to switch out their old, expensive, and still working fine ‘step-by-step’ exchanges, which could only understand rotary pulses. However, it still took just as long to make the call, as the Central Office (CO) had to wait for all the digits to be outpulsed, just as it did when you were dialing by hand.

    Here’s the fun fact: as tech grew, telephone COs got smaller and smaller. What used to take a large building with four or five floors could now be done in a couple of rooms. And the new exchanges could accept DTMF naturally; no need for the convertors any more, right?

    Except some people in Canada refuse to pay the extra $2/month for DTMF service and keep their rotary phones, which the new COs can’t understand. So Bell took their old DTMF convertors, and hooked them up in reverse; now they take the pulses from the phones of the people who won’t switch and convert them into DTMF so the CO can understand the signal.

    BTW, the original $2/month charge for Touchtone was justified by the CRTC, Canada’s version of the FTC, because Bell had to spend money to buy and outfit the DTMF convertors. However, nowadays, they do not have to spend that money, but the charge lives on. Anyone who has a Bell home phone – still some 6 million – with touchtone is still paying that extra $2/month. That’s how the CRTC ‘protects us’.

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