Where are the pay phones?
Pay Phone History
The Antique Telephone History Web Site
In 1889, the first public coin telephone was installed by inventor William Gray in a bank in Hartford, Connecticut. Over the next one hundred years, pay phones would find their way into American popular culture. Some people used pay phone booths to change identities (a la Superman) and still others used them to check in on a loved one who might be thousands of miles away. Despite their continued presence in convention centers, large hotels, and bus stations, the number of pay phones across the United States continues to decline significantly. In 1998, there were approximately 2.6 million pay phones in use. The most recent data indicates that there are around 1 million in use today. Recently, AT&T announced that they will be leaving the pay phone business, and they will be joining other telecommunications companies like BellSouth, who exited this segment of the business in 2001. While the decline of this particular aspect of telephony can be traced to the rise of cellular phone use, for many people, pay phones remain an important way of communicating cheaply with friends and family members.
The first link will take users to an article from this Tuesday's Boston Globe in which staff reporter Irene Sege looks around the Hub to find out a bit more about pay phone usage. The second link leads to a passionate letter to the editor from Sarah Dowling of Vallejo where she asks, "Where are the pay phones?" Moving on, the third link leads to the Payphone Project site. Here visitors can look at photographs of pay phones in French Polynesia and Germany and also get the latest news about these devices. The fourth link leads to a site where visitors can learn about telephone collector clubs, take a look at a pay phone history timeline, and even read a list of highlights from pay phone history. The fifth link will whisk users away to the Antique Telephone History site, where users can view historic telephone wiring diagrams and where they might be able to procure replacement parts for their favorite Princess model phone. The last link will lead visitors straight into the instructions for that perennial party-favorite game, "Telephone". The game is appropriate for all ages, and it includes a few tongue twisters, including "Lesser leather never weathered wetter weather better."