The current generation of teenagers and children have grown up seeing multiple cell phones lying around at home. In fact, they would be surprised to know how eagerly people waited for dial tone on their landlines to make a call when it was their only option to communicate with the outside world. Dial tone is a signal sent to a telephone device that is off the hook to indicate that the user can now initiate a call by dialing the required numbers. If there is no dial tone when you lift the handset to make a call, you might have to check for connectivity and call the service provider to rectify the error as you cannot make a call without the dial tone.
Early history of phone dial tones
The first land based phones did not have any dialtone and calls used to be connected by operators, after the confirmation from the receiver end. Gradual improvement in technology helped companies own operator-less phone lines so customers could make the connections without delay and by simply dialing in the phone numbers. Before automatic switching came into practice, every country that had private and government supported telecommunication systems used dialtone to tell people that it was the right time to start dialing numbers.
Early dial tones around the world
The invention of dial tone can be traced back to engineer August Kruckow, who set up the first dial tone in 1908 at Hildesheim. It was known as Amstston, and the tone sounded like a Morse code of 'too-TOOOT' which kept repeating itself until the caller started dialing numbers. Exchanges used dial tones like a comfort noise for customers to tell them that their line is working. Dial tones were used by telecommunication companies like AT&T and Bell to tell customers that lines were free and also to help them understand the difference between automatic and manual exchanges while connecting long distance calls. Before area codes and country codes came into practice, most out of state calls had to be routed through operators that would call the numbers and connect them to each other.
Early phone equipment
The telephone equipment designed during 1940-50 was built to last for 40-50 years. These 500 series phones, which were installed in homes during 1950’s, actually worked till 1990 and survived through generations. Most of the early phone systems used automatic switches to connect calls and the user could distinctly hear the switch. While the dialer phones were common and stood strong for several decades, people quickly switched to push button technology when they were introduced. These were gentle on fingers and could dial faster without the telltale buzzing of dialing phones.
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