Monday, November 18, 1963: Push-button telephones

The American Telephone and Telegraph Co. began offering push button telephones to customers today as a regular service.
     Only residents of Carnegie and Greensburg in western Pennsylvania will be offered the service at first. They will be an extra charge of $5 for installation of the new telephone and $1.50 a month for each line into the house.
     Push button telephoning, officially known as touch tone dialing, has been called the biggest change in telephones since the 1920s, when conversion to the customary dial began. AT&T said that the new service is expected to be generally available throughout the Bell System in 10 years or so.
     The main advantage of the new system is speed, ease and convenience of operations. The company estimates that a seven-digit number takes an average of 10 seconds to dial. The same number can be tapped out on buttons in 2 to 5 seconds.
     -- Associated Press, November 18 (Link to story: @)
     -- Note: The * and # buttons were introduced in 1968.

     New push-button telephones, first installed in 1963, will eventually be able to connect households with receivers and computers in banks, retail stores, and other businesses. By 1970, individuals using the push-button telephone may be able to order merchandise, pay bills, make inquiries, and handle other business transactions by communicating directly with computers or related business machines. Order takers, salespeople, and other clerical workers in retail trade and service industries may be affected.
     -- "Technological Trends in Major American Industries" (U.S. Department of Labor, February 1966)
* Summary (from doyouremember.com): @
* Press release from Bell Telephone Laboratories (from rotarydial.org): @
* "Western Electric 1500-Series Telephone Types": @
* "Look What's Happening to the Telephone" (Changing Times magazine, May 1964): @
* "The Telephone Story" (AT&T poster, 1969): @
* "Why do phones have the * and # buttons?" (from Solid Signal Blog): @
* "Century 21 Calling" (Bell System video from 1962 World's Fair; push-button exhibit begins at 6:35): @ 

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