Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Senate Considers Banning Dial Phones

This came to light from a recent Techdirt blog post.....  Now if they
would only ban Cell Phones while Driving.....

June 25, 1930
Senate Considers Banning Dial Phones

Senator Carter Glass of Virginia
Carter Glass (D-VA)

In the spring of 1930, the Senate considered the following resolution:

    Whereas dial telephones are more difficult to operate than are
manual telephones; and Whereas Senators are required, since the
installation of dial phones in the Capitol, to perform the duties of
telephone operators in order to enjoy the benefits of telephone
service; and Whereas dial telephones have failed to expedite telephone
service; Therefore be it resolved that the Sergeant at Arms of the
Senate is authorized and directed to order the Chesapeake and Potomac
Telephone Co. to replace with manual phones within 30 days after the
adoption of this resolution, all dial telephones in the Senate wing of
the United States Capitol and in the Senate office building.

Sponsored by Virginia's Carter Glass, the resolution passed without
objection when first considered on May 22, 1930. Arizona's Henry
Ashurst praised its sponsor for his restrained language. The
Congressional Record would not be mailable, he said, "if it contained
in print what Senators think of the dial telephone system." When
Washington Senator Clarence Dill asked why the resolution did not also
ban the dial system from the District of Columbia, Glass said he hoped
the phone company would take the hint.

One day before the scheduled removal of all dial phones, Maryland
Senator Millard Tydings offered a resolution to give senators a
choice. It appeared that some of the younger senators actually
preferred the dial phones. This angered the anti-dial senators, who
immediately blocked the measure's consideration.

Finally, technology offered a solution. Although the telephone company
had pressed for the installation of an all-dial system, it
acknowledged that it could provide the Senate with phones that worked
both ways. But Senator Dill was not ready to give up. In his
experience, the dial phone "could not be more awkward than it is. One
has to use both hands to dial; he must be in a position where there is
good light, day or night, in order to see the number; and if he
happens to turn the dial not quite far enough, then he gets a wrong

Senator Glass, the original sponsor, had the last word before the
Senate agreed to the compromise plan. "Mr. President, so long as I am
not pestered with the dial and may have the manual telephone, while
those who want to be pestered with [the dial] may have it, all right."

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