Monday, April 30, 2007

Après-Midi d'un Phone

We continue to unravel the mysteries of "The French Phone," using only New Yorker magazine as our guide. In the October 15, 1927 issue we get more details about Bell's telephone monopoly, and also finally learn the REAL name of the French Phone:
The French type of apparatus is increasingly popular. The company avoids the use of he term French phone, however: its official title is Bell system hand-set. Several hundred experts have been at work since this instrument was devised, improving it, but experiments still go on. The phone does not survive satisfactorily the rough treatment it receives, although it is as durable as the old desk type of instrument. Slamming the headpiece on to the delicate plunger and knocking the whole apparatus on the floor present problems in durability...

It is even now, however, superior to any other of its type, the engineers report, and is the only French instrument the company allows to be used. Employees are instructed to report any "alien" instruments and the company then orders them removed. In investigating faulty transmission the officials first determine whether the subscriber has an outlaw instrument...

3 comments:

Eric Little said...

"Alien"? "Outlaw"? And these people had a monopoly as well, as their very language betrays.

Luckily they never let their monopoly totally govern their business practices. The Bell handset phone became the perhaps most durable piece of mechanical technology ever introduced into the home. Slam the plunger? You could jump on it. Knock the base on the floor? One piece of equipment that never had to be "baby-proofed" was the Bell telephone. Safe and impervious.

And then there were Bell labs...

VanillaJ said...

A Bell telemarketer called my house last year, to advise me of new services, and plans. I said, "Please take me off your call list". "But," the woman sputtered, "you're currently a client of ours. We're BELL CANADA!"
"Yes, I know. And I'm asking you to not contact me anymore".
She said "oh, OK" but sounded utterly confused.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I get them calling too. My bank calls as well. They start out by saying they want to make sure I'm happy with their service, and then they start trying to sell me stuff.

I give them a bit more leeway because I actually use their services, so I don't want some disgruntled telemarketer putting me on a blacklist. Not that they have such power, I'm sure.

It seems like every two months I get a call from "Community Living," asking if I have spare clothes to give them. For some reason the call ID shows "Recycle Matters."