Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Voice Activated Phone System

This stuff is really high-tech. I called in pros for this one. They were here all yesterday morning installing it. The best part is – no more dialing! You just pick up the receiver and say who you want to talk to and you’re automatically connected. Here is a picture of it. This is mounted on the wall in the kitchen.

There is the phone and the control unit above it.

Here is a close-up of the phone.

Here is a close-up of the control unit.
There must be some microchips in there or something.

Here is how it works. You pick up the ear piece and crank that handle on the right. In a few seconds (This thing is super fast) Mable comes on, and in a sort of sing-song voice asks, “To which party would you like to be connected to?”. Then you just tell her the name and she connects you! Its great! No more dialing. No more numbers to remember. The convenience of these high-tech gadgets is just wonderful.

The best part is, if the lines busy you get to chat with Mable, and she knows everything about everybody. It is gossip central. For instance, did you know that last Saturday young Jim Fowler was seen down and the Bijou with Peggy McCall. Every one knows he’s been courting Jane Summers for 6 months now. What is he thinking!?!? Also, Mr. Druker from the hardware store broke his ankle hunting last week. Some say he was drinking too much. And, the Johnson’s prize pig Junebug just had a litter of 8 piglets. Everybody wants one of those. Old jack is going to make a killing at the next hog auction.

It is a great system, and I’m very happy with it. The funny thing is, though, both the phone and the control unit have a patent date of 1894. That must be a typo or something.


deb said...

haha! this made me laugh!!! my aunt barbara worked at new york bell or whatever it was called, and i swear lilly tomlin based her character on my aunt: is this the party to whom i'm speaking? new york accent and all!

Gary said...

You couldn't dial out on that anyway since you have no dial! You will have to wait another 25 years or so. Does that thing take incoming calls? I have two of the 1915 french style phones. One has the original wiring and I fiddled with it and got it to work. When we use it people say that I sound like I am far away (which I usually am, from them) or that I sound like I am talking into a tube (which I am). The other is one of those rehabbed ones from Phoneco that sells for something like $300 nowadays, mine was at least half that when I bought it. When we dial out on the old one in the bedroom it makes the bell jingle on the rehabbed one in the hall.

Greg said...

The phone doesn’t work – yet. I applied a low voltage to it and got the bell to ring. It is in very original condition. The “control unit” and that red, 3-wire phone line you see is original to my house. The house is 1895 but as far as I know it didn’t get a phone until 1904. The phone number was “Main 166”. The control unit was mounted to one of the joists and had two phone lines connected to it. There was one in the kitchen, just about where I have mine, and one in the foyer.

Scott in Washington said...

Hey that must be the Microsoft Phone that I've read about. Is yours skype VoIP? I think that came out in 1891.

Suzanne said...

We had one of those in the house I grew up in. It was still active when we bought the house. I was 6, and I still remember our ring: 1 long and 3 short. I thought it was so cool, although my parents hated the whole party line thing. The phone system changed soon after that. We had a regular phone anyway, and kept that as a conversation piece. I wish I still had it.

Jocelyn said...

your kitchen is looking really nice in these photos. Love the phone!

Yokel said...

I know this reply is a few months late but ...

I reckon you CAN dial out of that phone. I have a similar setup (though it's an Art Deco phone) with no dial. Besides connecting to the operator, one way they used to dial from these phones was by tapping the cradle. Rotary phones (I'm sure you've heard) make a clicking sound for the number dialed. One click for 1, 10 clicks for 0. It's tricky but if you lightly (and quickly) tap the cradle for the numbers you want to dial it does work. (Providing that the telephone company still accepts rotary dialled numbers - which I think they all still do).

Angus (new to your blog, but enjoying it immensely).

Greg said...

I think you might be on to something. I played around with it today. I was able to get a very faint dial tone (I think it needs a battery?), and when I tapped I would end up getting the message “The number you dial is not working….”, or what ever that message is.

The hard part, aside from the very low volume, was that I can’t hang up the phone for some reason. When I push all the way down on the cradle it disconnects the ear piece but doesn’t actually hang up the phone. The only way to hang up is to unscrew one of the wires. Kind of a pain. I’m going to have to investigate this. Maybe there is a on-line forum of old phone junkies.

Yokel said...

Yeah, I think mine has a battery too (haven't looked for years).

Of course you could build touchtone into it but that defeats the charm of the 'legacy' technology.

What I thought about was in the old days when I worked at Radio Shack, they had a handheld touchtone dialer (DTMF Dialer (?)- with a speaker (presses to the mouthpiece) on one side and a keypad on the other which makes the tones. I looked online but the only one I saw was stupid expensive. But I did find something which looks like it does the same:
You could always build a case for it out of salvaged-old-growth-redwood so it fits your house style! :)

'Course if you're one of these hip youngsters with a PDA there seems to be programs which do that too.