Ma Bell

Remember when there was only one phone company? And you had to rent your telephone from them?

For almost a century, Bell Telephone was the only phone company in the country. Of course, they invented the telephone. So consumers had no choice of who to go with for their local, long-distance, and local-long-distance needs. And in those days, people couldn’t buy a telephone like they can today (I know, young’uns, seems hard to believe). My parents, like everyone else, rented their phones from the phone company. We had the same telephone for sixteen years! These telephones didn’t plug easily into a phone jack like they do today. They were wired into the jack in the wall, and the telephone man had to come to your house to do it.

In 1982, the United States government decided that Bell Telephone had a monopoly. Using an anti-trust lawsuit, they forced Bell to separate into several smaller companies. Today the former Bell Telephone is known as AT&T, one of several telephone companies offering consumers a choice. And we’re free to go into any electronics store, or even Target for that matter, and buy a telephone that we can easily plug into the wall ourselves. Which in a way, is kind of a shame, because when I was young I really wanted a Sculptura phone (see ad above). Vintage Sculpturas are available online, but they’re not compatible with today’s phone jacks. Which means I’ll just have to reach out and touch someone with my boring modern phone.

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