Weird Phone Gallery

We don't sell these phones. This page is provided for education and amusement. Left-click on photos to enlarge.

We all know about beauty contests. This Leich phone could win an ugly contest. It has a unique design with two plastic "tusks" that cradle the handset when the phone is wall-mounted, but don't interfere with normal use on a desk or table.

With a messy switchboard like this, it's amazing that any phone call was completed.

This deluxe phone booth can fit a family.

Replica of Al Bell's first phone

This AT&T black rotary dial phone has extra features for use by telemarketers.
 

  • Neon light flashes when a call comes in

  • Ringer volume control with OFF setting (volume goes low, but not completely off)

  • Headset jack (for classic switchboard style headset)

  • On-Off switch so the phone can be used with a headset, without raising the handset

World's heaviest portable phone helps you build muscles while having a conversation.

This was an AT&T design experiment that led to the Trimline phone. Its shape resembles the Shmoo, a fictional cartoon creature first drawn by Al Capp in 1948 for his Li'l Abner comic strip.

Transparent Princess phone

Photo from Bell System Memorial by Wally Tubbs, who sold it on eBay for $2,000.

Multi-line Princess phone

Photo from AT&T Archives and History Center, San Antonio

Another multi-line Princess

Desk drawer phone

From a distance, this looks like a perfectly ordinary, perfectly dull, basic boring rotary dial phone.

But when you get close, you'll see that the dial has digits ONLY.

Guaranteed to cause trouble for anyone who has to dial BEachwood-4-5789, or MElrose-5-5300, or BUtterfield 8.

 

We may have one to sell. Call us at 1.203.878.8383

Vandal-resistant no-handset payphone required users to press face against the phone. Yikes.

1964 videophone (AT&T)

Shown at the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York City.

 1968 videophone (Japan)

Multi-line Trimline phone

GTE Linear

Made in the early 1980s, in both touch-tone-only and switchable tone/pulse models. GTE called the switchable model UDK, for "Universal Dialing Keyset."

Pac-Man phone

Cute but crappy, and the first phone sold by the Bell System with an outpulse pushbutton dial.

Early Motorola "brick" was probably the first handheld cellphone. It had a narrow two-column dialing pad.

Genie

Made in many colors, even two-color versions, and leather-covered. Made by American Telecommunications Corp., starting around 1980.

Grillo

Made in Italy starting in the mid-1960s, and marketed in the US as the Fold-A-Phone. It's the ancestor of all modern "flip" phones. It has no bell, but there's a buzzer in the bulky plug housing.

Alexander Graham Plane

Made by Northern Telecom in the early 1980s, in three versions: two-tone orange, all-white, and camouflage with Air Force insignia.

Explosion-proof phone

Designed to not produce sparks.

US Army WW1 battlefield phone used wires, not radio.

Phones have been made in lots of weird colors. Stromberg-Carlson made bright lime green and orange phones in the 1980s. Western Electric made deep blue phones for the Bell System, and stopped making them, and started, and stopped.

Some phone types were common in areas served by "independent" phone companies, but not seen in the Bell System. The phone at the left is a #1654 rotary Miniwall from Stromberg-Carlson. At the right is a #3554. It's much uglier than the standard 2554 touch-tone wall phone, but had a loud two-gong ringer.

The first touch-tone phones had just ten buttons, with no star or pound. This model 1500 has a 4-prong plug, common before modular connectors were introduced in the 1970s.

Back in the 1970s a flush-mount Panel Phone was the symbol of high technology and sophisticated home fashion. Faceplates were available in various colors, and people could get a multi-line version, too.

Unlike the current version of this older #2554 wall phone, the switch hook (what the handset hangs from) is chrome-plated steel, not plastic.

Harvest Gold kitchen appliances were popular in the 1970s, and both ITT and Stromberg-Carlson made wall phones to match. They were rented by independent phone companies, and sold as retail products. Western Electric stayed with lighter yellow.

This #575 and #515 "mechanical hold" models were the first type of two-line phone that didn't require a heavy cable and a closet full of equipment.

A knob on the front lets you select line #1 or line #2, and if you pull up the left-hand hookswitch plunger, you can hold the caller on one line while you switch to the other line.

‚Äč

A similar phone did not have the hold feature. DUMB!

The 300-series desk phone was manufactured in the United States from the mid-1930s until the mid-1950s. It was developed for Western Electric by the industrial design firm of Henry Dreyfuss and was the first widely used American telephones to include the ringer and network circuitry in the same telephone housing.

It became known as the "Lucy" phone because it was seen in early episodes of I Love Lucy.

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