"We never had a party line, but we had a phone without a dial till the late 50s. You picked up the phone, the operator said, "Number, please" and you told her the number. This was in a close-in NYC suburb! BUt we were an unincorporated village. A more civilized age, like lightsabers* instead of blasters ;-) I remember that we got a different exchange (but the same final 4 digits) when we switched to dial service. Automation…where have all the operators gone?!"In the 1930s and 1940s, being a 'telephone operator' was a decent paying respectable job for a woman. HOwever, due to one incident where Mr Strowger had an unscrupulous town operator divert some of his undertaking business to a competitor, he divised the step by step automatic dialing system.....and it spread like wildfire. Telcos could reduce their costs and automate. Needed some trained technicians plus had to make investments in the plant (hundreds of millions) but long term, cheaper. That got the operator out of the loop through the 30s and 40s and 50s....After that, the only time you ever got to an operator is if you dialed "O" for operator....and wanted to make a 'long distance' call that took operator intervention. Not long after that, they came up with standardized area codes so you could dial long distance from your own phone. We had one of the first 'push button' phones...(dad worked for the phone company' - and had 3 or 4 extensions...although back then you were supposed to be 'renting' them from the phone company. You could not own your phone. They charged you extra for a color phone, extra for a push button phone....and if you wanted a Princess phone..wowie! they'd sock it to you. No answering machines either. You could pay to have an answering service ($$$) if you were a business person...... you could not connect anything to the phone line that wasn't Ma Bell....or GTE...if you lived in their area....Slowly that changed.....slowly...over 2 decades...you could buy your own phone.....push button wasn't any more.....you could buy an answering machine (remember the clunky cassette ones?)...Then MCI came along and busted open the long distance market.....And cellular came long.....And then the internet....well, first AOL On Line and AOL Mail and MCI Mail......then the internet. I remember getting on Ebay through AOL On LIne.....their clunky interface......I remember myh Radio Shack TRS-80.....and Commodore 64...then PC XT, PC AT....RAdio Shack 100 portable computer.....it went by pretty quick...... electric pencil for a word processor on the TRS-80....programming in BASIC....and PASCAL...... Well, that's ancient history...was an interesting time.....I even had my pet goldfish and pet turtles....although they didn't seem to thrive in our household....I ate lots of hot dogs as a kid...didn't like hamburgers back then.....and potato chips....and corn on the cob.....and milk.....seems to be we didn't eat a whole lot of fruit back then. I do remember some water melons at picnics.....big mess eating them.....but the kids loved big messes.....t.
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