Now You Can Dial Your Own Telephone! (1954)


In this instructional AT&T film from 1954, host Susann Shaw explains how to dial your own telephone. This was, of course, to ease the transition from operator-assisted calls to dial service. It's bizarre to hear someone explain what a dial tone is, what a busy signal is, and how to dial a telephone -- though in fact all of these things will probably exist only in "classic movies" for kids being born today. Listen for the 1950's-era dial tone around the 2-minute mark and the busy signal around 6:50; they're both vaguely menacing. There's also discussion of the infamous "party line."

From the film's description:

The dial telephone was new at this point, although the two-letter, 5-number system was still commonplace. This film even has to explain what a ringing and busy signal sound like! This film opens with the demonstrator pointing out the importance of correctly using the dial telephone. Correct dialing techniques are demonstrated, with an emphasis placed on the following: 1. Be sure of the right number 2. Wait for the dial tone 3. Refer to the number while dialing 4. Turn the dial until the finger hits the finger stop 5. Avoid confusing the letter "O" with the "0" 6. The difference between ringing and busy signals

At one point Shaw says: "You'll always find operators ready to help, whenever you need them!" Well...maybe in the 50's. Enjoy: