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Movie Extension Phones


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That is not something I've ever paid attention, but I will at least in the near future!

Is that the way it really was back then? I'm a child of the '70s. Our phone cords were very short. If you took three steps away from the wall, the whole phone would have gone crashing to the floor.

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I’m an electrical engineer.  Phones of the black-and-white era did not have plugs (like we have now).  If you wanted a phone in your bedroom, the only way was to carry it from the Main room to the bedroom (requiring a superlong cord).

Here’s a full history of the phone electronics: https://www.angelo.edu/services/library/wtcoll/museum-of-telephony/progress-and-change-1920-1930.php

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I'd never noticed that before about the long cords, but lately I've loved taking note of the ways phones have changed over the years, and how each generation has such disparate experiences. It was a staple in all teen movies when I was a kid to fiddle with the phone cord, wrap yourself up in it, or to hear the click/dial tone when someone would hang up. Kids these days don't know any of those things, or even realize  we say "hang up" because you would actually hang the phone up! They think # are called hashtags.  Also someone recently told me this generation doesn't use the standard 🤙 to mimic talking on a phone, but instead they use their whole palm like the shape of an iPhone. I need to find out if this is true?!

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I think it was around the late 50's early 60's the "curly" cord came into use. That was a definite improvement for at least the handset not getting tangled up. It also wasn't until the 70's the "phone jack" came into regular use-where you could plug your phone into another room's wall jack.

As many of you know I collect old phones and my 1940's all metal "Gotham" desk phone is in daily use. No one under 30 even knows what it is! It's great fun when prompted to "dial 9" but they mean "press" since it actually uses a dial. 

But yes, I do always notice phones in old movies. Refrigerators & stoves too.

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Up until we got phones that worked remotely from a base unit, we had phones with both long cords to the phone and to the handset.  Still have some of them, as well as the phones.  My old house has a phone cubicle in a hallway and I have an early 80's phone sitting in it.  There is a phone jack, but no electrical outlet.  When we moved in in '91, we used that phone and it has a super long cord on it to reach the kitchen and den.  All of our jacks except one are not dead.

One movie this week (?) had a character that had two phones in his living room, but only one was plugged in.  Apparently there were jacks of some kind.  I think it was set in 30's.

Another factor was that Ma Bell and her relatives used to charge for every phone they installed (and only they could install them), so it was cheaper to have a phone with a very long cord.

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40 minutes ago, TheCid said:

Up until we got phones that worked remotely from a base unit, we had phones with both long cords to the phone and to the handset.  Still have some of them, as well as the phones.  My old house has a phone cubicle in a hallway and I have an early 80's phone sitting in it.  There is a phone jack, but no electrical outlet.  When we moved in in '91, we used that phone and it has a super long cord on it to reach the kitchen and den.  All of our jacks except one are not dead.

One movie this week (?) had a character that had two phones in his living room, but only one was plugged in.  Apparently there were jacks of some kind.  I think it was set in 30's.

Another factor was that Ma Bell and her relatives used to charge for every phone they installed (and only they could install them), so it was cheaper to have a phone with a very long cord.

My parent's house had the same phone nook in the hall, as did both sets of grandparents.  It was always in the hall.  The one in may parent's house was about 4 feet off the floor, meaning kids couldn't get to it easily.   Both grandparent's nooks were at about table top height, so you could sit and talk, I suppose.  My parents never used theirs for the phone (my Dad put his wallet and keys there), and eventually covered it over with sheetrock when they remodeled in the 1970s.

My parents thought the extension charge levied (with government approval, BTW) by the regional Bell companies was exorbitant, so we never had one until Bell dropped the surcharge.  I think it was as much as $5/month where we lived, when the total phone bill without long distance charges was about $8 or $9/month, including the TouchTone surcharge.  This would've been in the mid to late 1970s.

Also, average house sizes were such that multiple phones weren't really needed back then.  Average house sizes in the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s hovered around 1000 sq. ft.   Today, it's 2500 sq. ft.   We could reach the ringing telephone from any corner in the house in fewer than 5 seconds.

Our neighbor's father worked for Southwestern Bell, and they had an extension installed (along with Touch Tone) when they moved into their house in 1968.  Both were rare in our neighborhood at the time.

 

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9 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

I think it was around the late 50's early 60's the "curly" cord came into use. That was a definite improvement for at least the handset not getting tangled up. It also wasn't until the 70's the "phone jack" came into regular use-where you could plug your phone into another room's wall jack.

As many of you know I collect old phones and my 1940's all metal "Gotham" desk phone is in daily use. No one under 30 even knows what it is! It's great fun when prompted to "dial 9" but they mean "press" since it actually uses a dial. 

But yes, I do always notice phones in old movies. Refrigerators & stoves too.

My grandma had a French provincial rotary phone that was very nice. It was basically a candlestick style with a curly chord. I think it was early 60s but intended to look much older.

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As I remember,  when the installer came to install your phone he'd ask how long a cord you wanted.  I think that you got so many feet for free and then a small charge for extra length.  The apartment that I grew up in only had one phone, but it had long cord so it could reach to just about any room  except the bathroom. 

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11 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

I think it was around the late 50's early 60's the "curly" cord came into use. That was a definite improvement for at least the handset not getting tangled up. It also wasn't until the 70's the "phone jack" came into regular use-where you could plug your phone into another room's wall jack.

As many of you know I collect old phones and my 1940's all metal "Gotham" desk phone is in daily use. No one under 30 even knows what it is! It's great fun when prompted to "dial 9" but they mean "press" since it actually uses a dial. 

But yes, I do always notice phones in old movies. Refrigerators & stoves too.

The first phone jacks and plugs came out around 1960. Bell System Type 404A jack and type 283B plug 

Western_Electric_404A_and_283B_four-pron

Color changed to this quickly

61CzZw143dL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

The RJ11 came out during the 1970's

Phonejack-GettyImages-sb10069937br-001-d

 

Before deregulation, ALL jacks had to be installed by a telephone technician, you could NOT install / wire it yourself.  Today one can install pass the lightning arrester  outside the house.                                                                                                                                                              

The old phones in classic movies showed cords of different lengths, just had to let the telephone installer know how long you want it.

Old vintage cord made by Western Electric

Cords%20-%20original.jpg

 

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On 7/22/2020 at 12:34 AM, antoniacarlotta said:

 been told this generation doesn't use the standard 🤙 to mimic talking on a phone, but instead they use their whole palm

I spend time at nightclubs surrounded by 20-somethings.  They still use handsets at home & office, so they make the handset gesture.  — They also point to imaginary watches that nobody wears anymore.

- My parents built their house in 1960s and the phone had a large jack that was impossible to unplug.  The phone had its own ledge screwed-into the wall.   We had a two acre yard, so my mom sometimes “ran” all the way to the house for the phone!

My mom told me the phone electrocuted her during a lightning storm.  Knocked her to the ground.

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21 hours ago, txfilmfan said:

 

My parent's house had the same phone nook in the hall, as did both sets of grandparents.  It was always in the hall.  The one in may parent's house was about 4 feet off the floor, meaning kids couldn't get to it easily.   Both grandparent's nooks were at about table top height, so you could sit and talk, I suppose.  My parents never used theirs for the phone (my Dad put his wallet and keys there), and eventually covered it over with sheetrock when they remodeled in the 1970s.

My parents thought the extension charge levied (with government approval, BTW) by the regional Bell companies was exorbitant, so we never had one until Bell dropped the surcharge.  I think it was as much as $5/month where we lived, when the total phone bill without long distance charges was about $8 or $9/month, including the TouchTone surcharge.  This would've been in the mid to late 1970s.

Also, average house sizes were such that multiple phones weren't really needed back then.  Average house sizes in the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s hovered around 1000 sq. ft.   Today, it's 2500 sq. ft.   We could reach the ringing telephone from any corner in the house in fewer than 5 seconds.

Our neighbor's father worked for Southwestern Bell, and they had an extension installed (along with Touch Tone) when they moved into their house in 1968.  Both were rare in our neighborhood at the time.

 

One of the things I learned in the Army in early 70's was how to move phone jacks and connect more lines to outside "unit."  Wasn't trained in it, but we needed one moved in our work area and a guy knew how to do it, so we did.  Otherwise would have to send a request to post engineers for them to verify the need and then schedule it.  Would take one week to two months.

Ever since then I just ran additional wires myself, installed the inside jack, etc.  Bought the phones, jacks and wiring from Radio Shack or similar places.    Did the same thing with cable lines.  Now back to one line from outside that runs about 20 feet under the house and then to a box ATT installed on baseboard behind computer desk.  This is for the modem that connects to computer and phone base unit.

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Long phone extension cords are featured in at least a couple of movies I can think of (in addition to Detour.)  

Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (both his stage play and his screenplay) has an exchange about a phone extension cord between newlywed Corie Bratter and the telephone company man who comes to the Bratters' new apartment to install the couple's phone.  

The telephone company man asks Corie where she wants to put the phone, and she replies that she doesn't know because the furniture hasn't arrived yet.  She then asks him to give her a long extension cord so she can carry the phone around the apartment.  The telephone company man is happy with that idea, saying that he can then use the existing wall connection.

In the Jack Benny/Ann Sheridan movie George Washington Slept Here, the phone in the old house that the couple buys and eventually remodels is on a very long extension cord.  When they get a call just after moving in and can't find the phone among the mess of boxes and furniture, Jack has to follow the extension cord from the wall-mounted bell box to the phone itself.

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4 hours ago, Davehat said:

I spend time at nightclubs surrounded by 20-somethings.  They still use handsets at home & office, so they make the handset gesture.  — They also point to imaginary watches that nobody wears anymore.

- My parents built their house in 1960s and the phone had a large jack that was impossible to unplug.  The phone had its own ledge screwed-into the wall.   We had a two acre yard, so my mom sometimes “ran” all the way to the house for the phone!

My mom told me the phone electrocuted her during a lightning storm.  Knocked her to the ground.

 

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1 minute ago, BingFan said:

In the Jack Benny/Ann Sheridan movie George Washington Slept Here, the phone in the old house that the couple buys and eventually remodels is on a very long extension cord.  When they get a call just after moving in and can't find the phone among the mess of boxes and furniture, Jack has to follow the extension cord from the wall-mounted bell box to the phone itself.

There was a similar scene in a more recent movie,  Another Stakeout (1993).

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15 hours ago, hamradio said:

Western_Electric_404A_and_283B_four-pron

 

Thanks Ham! I had completely forgotten ALL ABOUT those! Of course I have a few knocking around, so old fashioned. Those RJ11's are all that came to mind as they are still ubiquitous.

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15 hours ago, markfp2 said:

The apartment that I grew up in only had one phone, but it had long cord so it could reach to just about any room  except the bathroom. 

Ohmigod! My best friends Mother had a wall phone installed in her bathroom circa '73. We thought it was outrageously funny to make crank phone calls- when the person said "Hello?" we'd put the receiver near the seat & flush then hang up. Stupid pre-teen girls!

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56 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

Ohmigod! My best friends Mother had a wall phone installed in her bathroom circa '73. We thought it was outrageously funny to make crank phone calls- when the person said "Hello?" we'd put the receiver near the seat & flush then hang up. Stupid pre-teen girls!

 

Remember "is your refrigerator running" ?  "The Baby Huey Show - 3 Ducks and a Dope" took it to the next level, it actually was running . :lol:

refridgerator-running.png

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Allhallowsday said:

I like the bathroom separate line in THE WOMEN so JOAN CRAWFORD can take calls in her tub! 

In a GLASS bathtub...like taking a bath in an aquarium.

(just what IS that cloudy stuff inside at the bottom?)

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