Do you remember rotary phones? Dialing the telephone number by turning the dial, but first having to wait for the dial tone to make your call. Then if you got a busy signal, you’d hang up and have to try later. There was no call waiting. Let alone, no texting.
Rotary dial designs dominated phone technology throughout the 20th century. Introduced in 1949, the classic Western Electric Model 500 became the standard telephone for the Bell System and in the 1950s nearly every home in America had one. The Model 500 was available through 1984, but it waned in popularity in the 1960s with the introduction of touch-tone technology.
These days, kids have a cordless phone at home or maybe just cell phones instead. So most haven’t heard a busy signal or even touched a rotary phone unless it’s their Fisher Price toy.
In the latest “Kids React” video by Benny and Rafi Fine — also known as The Fine Brothers — they put kids and teens to the test. Kids and teens attempt to not only use a rotary phone, but try to figure out how to text on one.
“We’ve been making this series now for over three years and near 100 episodes,” Benny Fine told Crave. “We’ve always found inside of a lot of the subject matter the reality of things that seem so recent being completely foreign to the next generation…and this was an evolution to that concept.”
In the video “Kids React to Rotary Phones,” kids ages 5 to 13 were asked to operate the phone without being instructed how to use it beforehand.
“Everyone knew it was a phone, but did not realize how it worked,” Fine said. “The kids not realizing they had to pick up the receiver before dialing was pretty amazing to see. Same with not knowing about busy signals or pay phones. We’re so old!”
“The fact one of them said they know what it is because they have a toy of it,” Fine added. “Pretty incredible to see once state-of-the-art technology be known as a toy.”
The Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone toy, which was introduced to the toy market in 1962, still remains a popular toy, but it’s surprising that many of the kids in the video had no idea how to use a rotary phone.
Fine said he realizes young people interact with each other today in far different ways than previous generations. The company is working on a similar video on teaching kids about a world without Internet.
“We’ve found from documenting reactions and opinions from them for years that most are thankful they live in today’s world, but are also very aware of how everything they think is cool now may one day be obsolete,” he said. “The stereotype of grandma not knowing what this new-fangled thing is may not be a stereotype once these kids are the seniors — as they are likely to be playing with the latest gadget and still playing video games well into old age. The world is changing rapidly!”
Kids React to Rotary Phones
Kids React breaks out a new format, with kids reacting to technology of the past, this time around, it’s rotary phones. Amazing how technology changes so quickly.