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What did a telephone call cast in the US 1920ies?

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    Posted: 26 Jan 2017 at 19:03
Dear history-lovers,

[I have cross-posted this question on this site but have been unsuccessful so far in finding an answer.]

I am looking for information on historic prices of phone calls in the US between 1920 and 1930. Specifically, I am interested in how prices varied over different distances of phone calls.

Does anyone happen to know a source where I might find the prices?

Any help is very much appreciated.

Many thanks,
telephil
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2017 at 10:44
Have you tried AT&T or Bell Telephone Company?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2017 at 10:54
The nickname for the phone company was Ma Bell (as in 'mother' bell) 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2017 at 13:08
Yes, I did know the nick-name was Ma Bell, and when, in the early days, it didn't work, it was called far worse.  Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jan 2017 at 10:59
Incidentally, when I was only young, a telephone call cost fourpence.

The public phones had an angled slide on the top where you rested your four pennies. When told to do so by the operator, you pressed button A and the pennies rolled down into the coin receptacle. Then the price went up to sixpence, then a shilling and so on.

These days, of course, public telephones have been made largely redundent due to mobile phones.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Athena Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2019 at 05:27
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Incidentally, when I was only young, a telephone call cost fourpence.

The public phones had an angled slide on the top where you rested your four pennies. When told to do so by the operator, you pressed button A and the pennies rolled down into the coin receptacle. Then the price went up to sixpence, then a shilling and so on.

These days, of course, public telephones have been made largely redundent due to mobile phones.

You didn't have to have anyone's permission to use a public phone, just the coins.  I don't have a cell phone and don't want one, but that means I have to find someone with a phone who will give me permission to use the phone when I am out and about because there are no pay phones on city corners. 

Quote  In 1927 commercial transatlantic telephone service to London, England began with a two-way radio. These calls cost $75 for five minutes. https://www.angelo.edu/services/library/wtcoll/museum-of-telephony/progress-and-change-1920-1930.php 

Quote During these years, all the contenders experimented with sales gimmicks such as wake-up calls and telephone-delivered sermons. Price was a major marketing issue, of course, and it dropped steadily. At the beginning of the century, the Bell system charged $99 per thousand calls in New York City; by the early 1920s a flat monthly residential rate of $3 was typical. As the habit of talking at a distance spread, some social commentators worried that community ties and old forms of civility were fraying, but the telephone had unstoppable momentum. By 1920 more than a third of all U.S. households were connected. Most had party lines, which generally put two to four households on the same circuit and signaled them with distinctive rings. Phone company publications urged party line customers to keep calls brief and not to eavesdrop on their neighbors, but such rules were often honored only in the breach.  http://www.greatachievements.org/?

This might be the best answer to the original question. 




Edited by Athena - 04 Aug 2019 at 05:38
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2019 at 12:47
We all have to move with the times. When I was young, the idea of a fully portable telephone was the stuff of Dick Tracy comics, now it's more than reality, it's essential.

Next move could be a phone embedded into our skull, with full voice control. How about that?Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2019 at 11:16
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

We all have to move with the times. When I was young, the idea of a fully portable telephone was the stuff of Dick Tracy comics, now it's more than reality, it's essential.

Next move could be a phone embedded into our skull, with full voice control. How about that?Wink
Johnny Quest had the video wrist watch.
cnet article says it will look like film Total Recall, you will see an options screen in front view. It was bound to happen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2019 at 12:00
Originally posted by Vanuatu Vanuatu wrote:

Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

We all have to move with the times. When I was young, the idea of a fully portable telephone was the stuff of Dick Tracy comics, now it's more than reality, it's essential.

Next move could be a phone embedded into our skull, with full voice control. How about that?Wink
Johnny Quest had the video wrist watch.
cnet article says it will look like film Total Recall, you will see an options screen in front view. It was bound to happen.

And by mentioning the fourpence (4 cents) price, I wasn't hinting that I was there for the 1920's.LOL
“The biggest surprise in a man’s life is old age.”
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2019 at 12:21
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Originally posted by Vanuatu Vanuatu wrote:

Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

We all have to move with the times. When I was young, the idea of a fully portable telephone was the stuff of Dick Tracy comics, now it's more than reality, it's essential.

Next move could be a phone embedded into our skull, with full voice control. How about that?Wink
Johnny Quest had the video wrist watch.
cnet article says it will look like film Total Recall, you will see an options screen in front view. It was bound to happen.

And by mentioning the fourpence (4 cents) price, I wasn't hinting that I was there for the 1920's.LOL
Oh, the things we remember just from our parents reminding us how much they struggled compared to us!
We were threatened with Rickets if we didn't eat greens. My grandfather (immigrant) was unwilling to walk in front of the TV unless he was fully dressed, he wasn't sure if Jackie Gleason could see him. 
I was told that my dad, and I admired grandpa's caution.Tongue
Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)
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