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If you've read Steve Jobs' biography, you'd know that one of the
people he most admired was Dr. Edwin Land, who was the inventor of the
Polaroid Land Camera.
Introduced in 1947 and manufactured and sold through the early 1980s,
the Polaroid Land Camera used a unique chemical process which allowed
a photo to be taken and within several minutes, to have the photo
instantly develop and printed on photographic paper.
This was considered to be a huge technological achievement because
with regular film cameras, if you weren't a professional or amateur
photographer with your own photo lab, you had to send your film out
for developing and enlargement, which took as much as a week or
Although this type of film was considerably more expensive than
traditional 35mm or 110mm film, and you could only have 8-10 exposures
per pack, the Polaroid camera took amateur photography to new heights
Photographs taken with the Polaroid process included the transfer
paper and film/chemical reagents on a multi-layer sandwich. Over time,
the colors would fade and images would degrade, much faster than
traditional photographic paper.
Before there was personal computing, before there was word processing,
there were typewriters. They were noisy, they required ink ribbons,
they used paper, and they did not correct your mistakes. If it was a
manual (non-electric) typewriter, they were also known to jam if you
didn't have the correct typing "rhythm".
Our own David Gewirtz recently did an ode to typewriters, so I'll
direct you to his great piece instead of waxing rhapsodic about them
From the 1890's up until the early 1960's when the DTMF or "Touch
Tone" method of keying in telephone numbers was introduced, the rotary
dial or pulse dial method was the predominant form of calling someone.
That's where the anachronism "dial" or "dial tone" or "I dialed it
wrong" actually comes from, despite the fact that all phones currently
use some kind of keypad.
Instead of sending a digital tone over the POTS line, these phones
used electromechanical relays that sent electrical pulses over the
telephone line which corresponded with the number that was being sent.
The switch equipment at the carrier (also electromechanical) receiving
the signal then routed the call.
These types of phones used a circular dial with holes that
corresponded with each number, 0 to 9. There was no "speed dial" or
re-dial, and you also didn't know who was calling you on the phone --
there was no caller ID of any kind. Someone called, you simply
answered, and you had no idea who was on the other end unless you
Excessive use of rotary phones was also painful and hurt one's
fingers, so people used to use pens and pencils to stick into the
dialing holes instead.
Pulse dialing was still operational and considered basic service in
the United States up until the early 1980s when DTMF dial service was
incorporated as a basic feature of land-line telephone service bills
and the electromechanical switching equipment at the carriers was
fully converted to digital.
Up until that point touch tone service was charged extra to the
customer on their monthly bill. The bastards.