Flashback Gadgets

Rotary dial phone

After like decades I saw this old rotary dial phone in an office here in Chennai, India. The one in the picture here is an updated (latter-day) version compared to the earlier ones which were black in colour and made from bakelite.

Dialling – we commonly use this word, but we may not realise its origin – it came from these phones as they have a rotary dial – using these phones had a charm, making us feel a bit snobbish in a nice way. I miss it! But then the number of wrong calls with these phones were painful too.

Depending on the telecom provider the phone in the picture will not even work, as all almost all networks have moved to tone dialling from the pulse and some have moved to digital from analogue.

Lastly, phones in those days were manufactured only by ITI ( A Government of India department) and it was illegal to connect a third party device to the network.

In my dad’s company, till the 1980s we had an elderly gentleman who was a qualified telephone operator come every week to clean(!) the instrument, and then tuck a piece of cotton soaked in cologne in the mouthpiece. Compare this to our smartphones, which are covered with our sweat and fingerprints.

Red colour, rotary dial phone made by ITI, Government of India
Red colour, rotary dial phone made by ITI, Government of India