Home > 70s Culture > 1970s Telephone

1970s Telephone

You might think a phone is a phone, but just like everything else in the 1970s, telephones were a little different than in previous decades, both in style and in the service features that were available.

Though the “touchtone” or push button telephone had been invented way back in the 1940s, it wasn’t until the 1970s that this type of phone largely replaced the rotary dial phone.

Everyone thought the push button feature was pretty cool. It made call making a lot easier and quicker, and there were even other convenience type features, like push button re-dial and auto dial, that appeared by the end of the decade. Hence, by the 80s, nearly everyone had a touchtone phone.

In the 1970s, keeping with the mod styles of the decade, telephones were quite groovy as well…at least we thought they were. No longer were consumers limited to just that boxy white, tan, or black phone that sat on the desk.

Bell Telephone’s manufacturer, Western Electric, introduced several new styles during the era, including the “Trimline” phone, which was a much more sleek version of the classic telephone, with a curvy handset that included the dialing or touchtone mechanism on it instead of on the base. This phone was eventually available in a number of colors.

Another popular 1970s telephone was the so-called “Sculptura” or donut phone. This was part of Western Electric’s Design Line series of phones and vintage decor lovers consider this one of the best phones of the decade as far as design is concerned.

The Sculptura had a rounded base with a rounded handset on top that completed the circle. This phone made its way into a number of 1970s movies, like Ghostbusters.

A number of other Design Line phones were also made available at the new Bell Phone Center stores that opened around the country in the 1970s.

These included the vintage candlestick and “country-store” phones, very ornate gold and Mediterranean-style cradle phones with large decorated bases, the very mod “Big Button” phone, a “chest” phone in a wooden box that concealed the actual phone, and a number of whimsical phones that included statues of favorite cartoon characters of the era, including Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and Woodstock, and Winnie the Pooh.

In addition, by the end of the decade, phones were available in just about any color of the rainbow. These allowed consumers to color coordinate their phones with their very hip home decor of the 70s, which probably included foil wallpaper or furniture in mod colors and large geometric prints.