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“Everyone takes the telephone for granted,” PopSci lamented in December 1965. Everyone except the inventors at Bell Telephone Laboratories, who had recently unveiled seven crazy-futuristic ideas to revolutionize telephones in homes, offices and even the wilderness.

TV telephone: “A TV phone of the future that is already providing service between New York, Chicago, and Washington. The Picturephone transmits both images and voices.”

Touchtone: “Telephones with pushbuttons, instead of dials, that allow you to place calls in seconds. Pleasing tones – a different one for each digit – replace dial clicks.”

Speed dial: “A computerized telephone exchange that lets you dial most-called numbers with two or three digits (even long-distance!)”

Wilderness phone: “A rural pay phone for remote areas that operates via microwave relay rather than telephone lines.”

Contacts list: “Business telephones that automatically dial a number from a perforated code on a card. You just stick the card in a slot.”

Speakerphone: “A desk-top speaker and microphone for group conversations.”

Sleeker, sexier phones: “Telephones that are smaller, lighter, and more attractive, ranging from the Princess of recent years to the just-introduced Trimline, which incorporates the receiver, transmitter, and dial in a light handpiece.”

BONUS: “A Data-Phone designed to let computers ‘talk’ to each other in computer language.”

Big changes are in the works: pushbutton phones, TV screens, and a computer exchange that dials for you: 1965

Telephones of yore

Read the full story in our December 1965 issue: They’re Still Inventing the Telephone.

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