Long before the idea of a hot dog-shaped iPhone case, an Otter box, or even that interchangeable Nokia Face Plate, people were just as likely to express themselves with their landline phones. Growing up in my home in the 80’s, the slimline in the kitchen wall was hidden in a magneto wall in the early 1900’s, the front of which was exposed to reveal the modern equipment in the back. Back in my bedroom, I had the coolest phone, to see a unison with the candy-colored dare. Below in the basement was my favorite extension, strategically: a candy apple-red wall unit with fuzzy-light round push buttons spongy and spongy and very fun to dial.
Popular culture shows us that people dreamed of a quiet telephone enclosure before it became a thing. Apparently, the shoe phone of TV Secret Agent Maxwell Smart was not admirable for the technology of that era, but for aesthetic reasons it was not really possible. For decades, phone customers have had to use any of Bell’s tools, and you can’t just buy things directly at the mall – you have to lease the hardware from her, And Pay for the service.
Back when the phones were still Ma Bell’s, she finally went from the black trimmed pyramid of 1930s desk phones to all sorts of offers, such as the Princess Phone, the ScalpTura (or Donut Phone) and the Stowaway models, which turned the device into two. Things that look like a hidden stationery / stationary stash box, or a tiny roll-top desk. This landline phone craze began in 1954, when AT&T released the classic “500” desk phone in five bright colors: white, beige, green, blue, and pink. But real freedom came from a 1975 ruling that opened the door to all kinds of designs.
A phone suitable for a princess.
Ah yes, donut phone.
Cigarettes? 8-track? No, just the Dan extension. Excellent.
If you can have a plain phone, why a plain phone?
A clear competitor
And then there was ITT Teleconcept. The Connecticut-based company was a pioneer in the field of designer telephones, branded genuine POTS with ITT or Stromberg Carlson or GTE / Automotive Electric, and encapsulated them in attractive and often transparent shapes. Some, such as the Chromephone and Apollo have tamer than others, with basic geometric shapes and glossy accents. Others are wild, and would certainly have been great if illuminated as one of those Greek goddess-captive rain lamps of the same era.
ITT Teleconcepts has designed a variety of custom phones, some of which were very far apart – you may remember that I talked about a periscope-shaped C-through phone on eBay in the Hacked Podcast # 165. I played the watch list game and of course, they sent me an offer for a lower price – to my surprise, they offered me 90% off the list price, taking the thing from $ 300 + to about $ 36. I thought it was a kind of thick-finger situation, and yes, it was a mistake on the part of the seller.
Start your own collection
If you like weird phones, don’t despair – these sleek teleconcept units weren’t as rare as some say, and not all of them cost hundreds of dollars today. Although their bottoms have handwritten tags that make them look like they were made by an artist one by one, these phones were actually mass-produced. They’re there, and they don’t always go for hundreds of dollars.
I recently found an interesting specimen – a phone that is mostly hidden inside the stomach of a teddy bear called the Casey Bearphone. It is a 1986 teleconcept unit. This nightmare-fuel unit has a speakerphone – in fact, it can only be a speakerphone – and the bear’s eyes and mouth sync with the caller’s voice. Yes. Here is a video of Casey Bearyphone’s glorious action.
Analog landline phones are quite simple, especially compared to a modern cell phone. So what about home gamers of the last few decades? Surely there were some people out there who put the courage of the phone into an interesting circle, and the mind reels with possibility. Were you one of these people? Do you or have a cool old landline phone? Leave a message at beep.