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View Diary: How to Be a Responsible Communications Consumer? (48 comments)

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  •  pretty good overview, and you even... (14+ / 0-)

    .... got the history more correct than most laypeople I know.  (I've been in the industry for close to 30 years now, and know the history in depth.)

    If you ever tire of "that clunky old thing on the wall", I'd gladly pay $150 plus shipping for it (reply to this posting if you're interested).  

    The solution you hit on also has history.

    We call it "postalization."  For most of the 20th century, most of the world's "telephone companies" were run by their nations' post offices.  This was a natural outgrowth of the evolution of technology:  the telegraph was a form of written communication similar to letters, and the telephone was related to the telegraph, so it made sense to expand the post office accordingly.

    Thus in England your phone service was provided by GPO Telephones (GPO = General Post Office).  In Australia, the PMG (Postmaster General).  In France and the Netherlands, the PTT (Post, Telegraph, and Telephone).  In Germany, the Bundespost (German Post Office).  Etc.

    People like to complain about the Post Office, but consider ....  

    It is still the most democratic of all communications media: for a modest fixed price, your letter or package will be delivered anywhere in the US.  You can receive unlimited amounts of mail every month at zero cost.  If you're a nonprofit, you can get a discount.  And junk mail is a mouse-sized nuisance compared to the monster of email spam that presently constitutes over 99% of all email traffic.

    It was the British Post Office (GPO Telephones) that first made home data service a reality (PresTel), and the French Post Office (PTT) that initiated computer bulletin board services for the masses (MiniTel), both of these coming before the Internet in the US.  

    •  Thanks for the international history! (0+ / 0-)

      I must admit I didn't know very much of that; most of what I have read has been about communications history in the US.

    •  As for selling... (0+ / 0-)

      ...thanks for the offer, but I'm afraid we're quite happy with our Western Electric ;-)

      We bought it at a yard sale a couple of years ago for $100, and I used some instructions I found online to devise an external "adapter" box with dial pad and network. Really, the "adapter" is the phone, and the old wall phone basically acts as a handset and ringer for it. The phone was in good original condition when I got it, and I didn't want to butcher it by doing an internal conversion, so this was the only real option.

      We don't have it hooked up at the moment, because we don't have a land line at our current apartment. However, we will be moving in a month or so, and it will go into regular use then.

      Speaking of which, a whole other article could be written about the fascinating history behind Western Electric and Bell Labs. Western Electric is also responsible for the research that led to one of my other favorite technologies: the "Orthophonic" exponential-horn phonographs.

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