The Future Is Here
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Old American Telephone and Telegraph Report Shows What Keypads Could Have Been

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You probably don't think about it much, but there was an intensive selection process that went into the telephone push button keypad. Ironically, the one we use today featured a fairly high error rate.

The second chart above shows the four finalists and the original rotary design. Crosses and asterisks denote error rates, keying speeds and aesthetic preferences. Anyone sad the rotary didn't stay in use? Yeah, me neither.


But still, if history were a bit different, and the tastes of a few focus groups in the 1960s were more forgiving, we could have been drunkenly hammering out phone numbers in the bar on a triangle or old half moon rotary-esque set up. Alternatively, drunk dials would require slightly more effort than they do today. It's a mixed bag, really. Thanks, focus groups! [Mental Floss]