Most every piece of technology, no matter how simple, comes with a user manual of some sort. Even the seemingly straightforward rotary dial phone.
Although Alexander Graham Bell patented the first telephone in 1876, the first rotary dial phones didn’t make their way into American homes until 1919. Then came the obligatory tutorial. Created by AT&T in 1927 and originally shown in theatres in Fresno, California, the silent film above breaks down the process of dialing a call–from using a phone directory and finding a number, to picking up the receiver and listening for that steady humming sound called the “dial tone,” to turning and releasing the rotary dial multiple times, and so on. This primer would carry Americans through 1963 when the first push-button phones started to pop up. That advent of the push-button phone also came with a video, of course.
Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.