The 1960s Phone Button Layouts That Never Were

The 1960s Phone Button Layouts That Never Were

Certain aspects of the technologies that we use here in the 21st century have been around for so long that we take them for granted. One great example is the way that the buttons on a push-button phone are positioned. In the early-'60s switch from rotary to push-button phones, there was nothing obvious about how the buttons should be arranged. So the social scientists at Bell Labs experimented with different layouts — some offering more accuracy, others more speed.

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Pending approvalOriginal post by Eric Limer on Gizmodo

Look at the Insane Number Button Layouts Our Telephones Could Have Had

Look at the Insane Number Button Layouts Our Telephones Could Have Had

The year was 1960, and phones were changing. It was the beginning of the end for rotary dialing, and buttons were the future. But engineers faced an important, looming question: what order do you put those buttons in?

Turns out there were a lot of options.

Look at the Insane Number Button Layouts Our Telephones Could Have Had

Note: A ton of these are super wrong. What they hell were they thinking?

Before ultimately settling on the layout we know and love today, the brainiacs at Bell Labs ran tests with hundreds of dialers, keeping close watch on what layouts were the speediest, most accurate, and most preferred.

In the end though, there wasn't much of a difference between the front-runners, and we wound up with the pattern we have today largely for technical, button-spacing reasons. And though it may seem second nature today, it certainly wasn't just a matter of luck.

If you want to know more about the history, you can check out the entire report online, or you can watch Numberphile's handy little summary below. And next time you dial a number, remember you're dealing with some seriously tested tech. [Numberphile]

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