Today, boys and girls, we're taking a trip back in time to an epoch known as the Phone Age.

You may recall from your studies that the Phone Age came right after the Ice Age and just before the Information Age. Sticklers say there were some Ages in between, Industrial and whatnot. What. Ever.

The Phone Age was a dark and mysterious time when all the numbers of the phone had to be dialed. There was no video-conferencing. No IMing. Nothing but the phone and something called mail, without the e.

Hard as it is to believe today, there was no speed dial, no call-waiting, no caller ID. There weren't even cellphones. Oh, and get this, handsets were attached to the phone by a cord. And rather than punch the numbers, as we do today, people actually stuck a finger in a small hole and rotated a dial all the way up to a little stopper, then waited for the dial to rotate back down, then did this all over again six more times.

The ancients were a hardy breed.

But enough chitchat. Let's take a closer look.


One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingy. "Hello. Is this the party to whom I am speaking?" That was a popular joke in the Phone Age. It played off someone, known as an operator, who facilitated your call. The operator was a real, live person. If you had trouble with your phone, you had to wait up to a full minute for her (operators were invariably women) to remedy the problem.

Nowadays, of course, things are much better. We are swiftly transferred to an endless menu of irrelevant options that ultimately puts you on hold where you get to listen to cheesy music or a string of advertisements until a representative "will be right with you." Vastly more efficient.

And then there is the phone itself. Back then, it was black and hung on the wall or sat on the counter. And get this: People could speak and actually hear each other. Weird, huh? Not like today when our conversations sound a little like we're shouting at one another through a rainstorm.