size not a major consideration in wireline phone sets [telecom]

Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2009 21:34:25 -0400 (EDT)

>From: "Julian Thomas" >To: >Subject: Re: Cell phone recycling: delete, then dispose >Message-ID: > >On Thu, 16 Apr 2009 07:24:38 -0700 (PDT), wrote: > >>In those days it was tech progress to "miniaturize" telephone >>components small enough so they all fit into a single set. Prior to >>the 300 set of 1938, telephones required a separate ringer box and >>condenser/network. Indeed, I think in those days handset models cost >>more than candlestick models. No one could've imagined that a land- >>line phone (forget about mobile phones) could be as tiny as today's >>cellphones. > >The WE 200 series dial sets (with a separate ringer box); either deskset >had a small base and a cradle with a full off-hook actuator (candlestick >were similar), as opposed to the 300 series, which were squarish with a >cradle with two button actuators and integrated ringer.

For a very brief history and photos of U.S. rotary dial telephones, please take a look at my web page at

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I believe that the evolution of the dial telephone set was driven more by the desire to reduce manufacturing, inventory, installation and maintenance costs than by any desire for miniaturization per se. (The exception to this was the "Princess" phone which was intentionally designed to have a small footprint so that it could be marketed as a bedroom extension which would fit on the typical small bedside nightstand table.)

Portability was never an issue until the advent of wireless technology which allowed mobile telephony to be carried around rather than bolted to an automobile. Its precursor was the hand-held "walkie talkie" of World War II -- a remarkable device given the limitations of vacuum tube technology and its requirement of sufficient battery power to heat a filament and to provide plate voltages of 65 to 90 vdc.

"Briefcase phones," "bag phones," "brick phones" and other transitional designs made from about 1985 to 1995 evolved remarkably quickly into the pocket-size devices which we use and throw-away today.

Even Dick Tracy did not imagine a disposable "wrist radio." :)

Regards, Will

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Will Roberts
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The Trimeline phone was also specially designed to be smaller. Both Princess and Trimline sets rented for a premium charge.

It is correct they were trying to reduce maintenance and installation costs. But having all components in a single set, as achieved by the

302 set, was also an advantage for the customer as well as the company.

Actually, "portability" was initially achieved by plug-in phones. Railroad trains would 'plug in' at stations in the 1920s so passengers could make calls.

Mobile phones in cars and trains after WW II was seen as a major achievement. Initially cellular phones were so big that only cars could accomodate them, though far more subscribers had access than in the past.

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