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Rotary Dials vs Key Pads

Old Style Phone Dial
Old Style Phone Dial

Phone key pads are actually a somewhat recent invention. Until the 1970's, the rotary dial was in widespread use. Numbers were dialed by turning and then releasing a disk on the front of the phone. When the disk was released, a spring mechanism inside the phone returned the disk to its original position while generating a certain number of pulses at the proper rate.

Since then, rotary dial phones have largely been replaced by touch dial phones which have calculator-like keypads. To dial a number, simply press the buttons with the corresponding digits. The phone then sends the corresponding DTMF tones to the phone company. Note that most phones can be set to send pulse dial signals instead.

Last updated Tuesday December 11 2012
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(C) Copyright 1996-2006 by Helmut Hissen and Zeebar Technology Services, Inc.
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Zeebar Technology Services, Inc