Telephone

Crossed Wires: The Gendered Technology of the Princess Phone


The ubiquity of smart phones today makes it almost impossible to imagine a time when there were not many choices when purchasing a telephone, and they were not customizable, let alone portable. This began to change in 1959 when Bell Telephone Systems released the Princess telephone as the first phone specifically created for teenage girls and women. The Princess phone began a trend of using the telephone itself as a form of expression by taking a previously neutral communication device and transforming it into a gendered object.
Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss, Bell Telephone, women, teenagers, Industrial Design

Before phones became gifts


"I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's!" whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. "He shan't know who sends it...."[1]
Telephone, Tiffany & Co., silver

Body Odor and Sticky Feet


What do sticky feet, body odor, and cracked, sweaty and saggy skins have to do with our museum collection? A survey of plastic materials in Cooper-Hewitt collections, supported by the Smithsonian’s Collections Care and Preservation Fund, was recently conducted by a team of conservators. We saw and smelled many of these plastic deterioration issues—up close and personal.
conservation, Henry Dreyfuss, Telephone, plastic, survey, deterioration, Industrial Design, cab, PVC

The 302


When American designer Henry Dreyfuss began work as a consultant to Bell Telephone Laboratories (BTL) in 1930, he sought simplicity and unity of form in the installations of their equipment. He persuaded BTL to let him work with their engineers, and this collaboration resulted in the 302 telephone of 1937. The unified and balanced form of the 302 replaced the awkward and ungainly shapes of earlier models. Its successor, the 500 of 1949, was a response to the increased post-war demand for telephone service.
Henry Dreyfuss, Telephone, Bell Telephone Laboratories

Before There Were Ring Tones There Were Rings


If you grew up in America in the mid-1950s-70s, you no doubt encountered the Model 500 telephone or one of its variants in almost every home or workplace you entered. The model 500 became the standard desk-style phone in the U.S., with over 93 million units produced for homes and offices between 1949 and the divestiture of AT&T (the Bell System) in 1984.
Telephone, Model 500, Henry Dreyfuss, Bell Telephone Laboratories, Western Electric Manufacturing Company, Industrial Design