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What is a Landline Telephone?

Updated on August 19, 2013
The Landline, rotary phone.
The Landline, rotary phone. | Source

Old gadgets vs New Gadgets

We are in the Twenty-First Century with new technology bursting onto the scene every day! Progress in technology was once said to double every two years, then it was changed to every eighteen months, it was actually referring to computer chips and transistors, but you could apply it to all technology. New technology gadgets appear on the scene every day. New hi-tech gadgets to help you do things faster, better, easier! Cool new gadgets you simply must have to keep up with your friends (no one keeps up with the Joneses anymore).

Well, since we are talking about all these new hi-tech gadgets, What is a Landline Telephone? Where are the many cool gadgets baby boomers grew up with? Better yet, exactly what are they?

What is a Landline Telephone?

A "Landline Telephone" is just what it's name implies. It is a telephone with a "landline", that is a chord hardwired to a box that is then connected to a wire leading to a pole and so on. Some people may still have landline's in their homes today. They were dependable and any home owner's first means of communicating with the outside world. Well, once upon a time anyway. Going way back those landlines were sometimes connected by partylines. That meant that more than on household shared the same line. You could pick up your phone and hear Mrs. Black talking about her son's new girlfriend. It worked the other way too, you could be on the phone having a very private talk and someone down the line would pick up!

Now we know cell phones have replaced landlines in many homes and in most teenagers hands. Some think of it as an outmoded technology while others think of it as a dependable form of communication without any 'dropped areas' or 'dead zones'. Newer landline phones no longer have rotary dials (like the one in the picture at the beginning of this hub) but have digital functions and abilities and though bases are true landlines, satellite phones can be used with the bases. The 'satellite' phones are not true landlines, but are plugged into an electrical outlet to keep their batteries charged. These base and satellite phones do away with having a phone jack in every room you want a phone.

Telephone stand


The Telephone Stand

Speaking of landline telephones, just as we have adaptive furniture today, landline telephones were responsible for some forms of furniture. A telephone stand was nothing elaborate. Just a small space to sit and quickly chat. The telephone books were kept on a shelf in the stand in case you had to look up a phone number. The stand and it's chair were small because most telephone conversations were short.

So, after reading that about landline phones and telephone stands, what other 'gadgets' of the past did or didn't make it into the future?

Skate key

Skate key for clamp roller skates.
Skate key for clamp roller skates. | Source

Roller Skate Key

The picture to the right is a skate key. A skate key was used for your clamp-on roller skates to tighten the clamps that held your skates on. Two clamps in the front of the skates and a strap around your ankle and you were ready to roll! No roller blades or inline skates back in the day. Four wheeled, metal skates that needed the skate key to tighten them so they stayed on your feet. Some of you may have never seen a skate key but to kids in the fifties and sixties, you had a skate key on a string around your neck so it was always handy. Hours and hours were spent on your metal skates, just skating up and down the road with your friends.

Brand New Key

Records and Record Case

My old record case with two 45 rpms showing.
My old record case with two 45 rpms showing. | Source

45 RPMs and Case

Speaking of friends, no self respecting teenager was without a record collection to share with his friends. There were no MP3 players or iTunes...vinyl was the way to go. When you heard a song you liked on the radio you'd run right out and buy that record. Once you got it home you'd put it in your record box, in it's own tabbed space to keep it clean and safe. Those records were played over and over on your phonograph.

Most of the record labels from the fifties and sixties are gone now. You can see in the picture, two of them were Big Top and Cadence. Anyone remember Del Shannon? He sang "Runaway" on the Big Top Label. The Everly Brothers and Chordettes were two of the many who were on the Cadence label.

Egg Beater

The egg beater...or a newer version of one anyway.
The egg beater...or a newer version of one anyway. | Source

Egg Beater

A hand-turned rotary egg beater was first patented in 1859. It changed little over the years. You may have seen one though the electric mixer bumped it out of popularity between the 1920's and 30's. However, not everyone had an electric mixer in those days, and in the fifties even if they did, they still tended to use their hand egg beater to beat eggs!

Lots of new gadgets were being introduced in the kitchen in the fifties. Does anyone remember the electric frying pan? What a marvel. It was like having an extra burner without having to use your stove. They were made of stainless steel and had temperature controls. A three slice toaster appeared on the scene as well. Unheard of! Being able to toast more than two slices of bread at a time.

Transistor Radio


Other 1950s Gadgets and Inventions

A leak-proof ball point pen. Now that's innovation. Moving from a fountain pen to a ballpoint was pure genius, but a ball point pen that didn't leak! No more stains on the pockets of men's white shirts.

Most people were using push lawn mowers, not the gas powered we use today. It was in the 1950s that TVs started showing up in all homes. There were some ten to twelve inch TVs but in the fifties up to ninety percent of homes had a TV.

A man named Frank McNamara came up with the idea of credit cards. Can you imagine a world without a credit card? Passenger jets also came into being in the 1950s.

Many of you may not have heard of the transistor radio. This was a popular music provider that was invented in the 1950s. Teenagers carried around little transistor radios then, like teenagers carry around MP3 players today.

In 1959 John Hopps invented the Cardiac Pacemaker. The list goes on and on. The 1950s was certainly full of inventions and gadgets.


The past is always with us even in our new inventions. Whether its a landline telephone to a cell phone or a pacemaker that's still being used. Many things of the past are totally in the past and our memories and storytelling are what keep them alive not only for us but for future generations. Other inventions were so "before their time" they are still being used and have yet to be improved upon. And, no, I didn't walk uphill to school in a snowstorm.

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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      That is so cool LongTimeMother...things were made better then and worked forever!

    • LongTimeMother profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      lol. Now that I live off the grid I am actively seeking out lots of the old tools I haven't seen since I was a child. I went to great lengths to track down a twin-tub washing machine, and when I found a really old washing machine with a roller above the tub, I bought that as well - just for fun. :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Funny Mary, I sometimes use my rotary egg beater too! I guess we just like our memories!

      Yes Larry, I know what you mean. Even here our electric goes out and the new phones that plug into electric are then out of service. Sometimes the old way is not a bad way!

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 

      6 years ago

      I live in Louisiana where we get hurricanes. We lose electrical power, so you cannot recharge your phone,, except in your car which burns up gasoline that may be in short supply or towers get damage. Landline telephones continue to work, as long as it is one that does not have to be plugged into an electrical outlet. They work, not perfectly, but they work and the mobile phone often will not work.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      I remember every item you mention in this Hub! Hey, I used my egg beater just today to make my famous lemon meringue pie, I still have an old rotary phone, and I have 45 RPM records (Elvis Pressley).

      Thanks for the memories.....

      Voted UP and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I guess because of our age, we still have a landline too and it is the main phone we use. We only use the cell when travelling. I always appreciate your loyalty and comments.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      I still depend on my landline telephone when I don't want my bill for my cell to go up too high! Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Mary.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      TT, we will always hold our childhood days as the best, no matter when we were born...however, I have to admit I think our old times were the better best.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      6 years ago from USA

      Oh no...there still are a bunch of us out here who remember the old times...and for me, they were better times as well!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      No TT you are not old, we are 'experienced'! I thought I was the only person who remembered Captain Video!!!

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      6 years ago from USA

      Oh my goodness...and what about listening to radio because there was no TV and watching Captain Video and Howdy Doody when TV finally showed up...and those tri colored pieces of plastic and magnifying glasses we put over our TV screens to make them bigger and in color! Too funny....and yes, I really am VERY old!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      SGBrown, not only was it for identification purposes but answering the phone "Brown's residence" was polite too! I know, when I think of the new things in just my lifetime its boggling.

      ytsenoh, you're right, I hadn't thought about the phones in offices! Thanks to you.

      Oh Brett that story is a riot! "CD from Outer Space"....well, if you've never seen a record before! Thanks so much for sharing.

      Wayne, thank you for sharing too. You make a good point about those old skates, I never thought about it but you're right it was a flawed concept.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      The first house my family lived in back in the early 50's had a small alcove built into the wall in the hallway just for the big black rotary telephone. I still remember our four digit number...4362. It was a party line shared with another household somewhere nearby. Though technology changes, it does not change fast enough as I still have a landline phone in our home which is seldom used though it costs about $60 a month. We have it in order to support the security system which only cost $30 a month....go figure. Skate keys were pretty handy when those metal skates came ripping off your shoe soles and sent you flying down the concrete. That key allowed you to really squeeze down the clamping mechanism that held them to your shoes at the front and back on each side. The concept was flawed from the get-go but I am sure they sold thousands upon thousands of pairs. Thanks for sharing! ~WB

    • Brett Winn profile image

      Brett Winn 

      6 years ago from US

      Oh, what a SCREAM!!! Love it, love it. You fail to realize when you live through an item's becoming obsolete that those who come after you will puzzle over them. I had a child who was playing in the field behind our home in the early 80's and he found an old 45 record. He came running in with it, all excited, and announced he had "found a CD from Outer Space!"

      So it goes .....

    • ytsenoh profile image


      6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Interesting and great. What amazes me is that someday in offices current landlines will be a thing of the past. I don't know anyone who has one in their home now. On the old rotary, I remember I used to like the sound of the dial spinning back. Really good hub here. Thanks.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      We had a part line when I was a kid. I can remember picking up the phone and hearing this older lady taking about her kids to someone. Back in the day, when the phone rang, you answered it..."Brown's residence", to let the person know which residence that had reached. I had not thought about a skate key in years! I wish I had kept mine. I still have a land line and a phone table with the phone book in a little cubby hole. It's amazing the changes that have taken place in the last 50 years! Great hub, thanks for the memories! Up and interesting! :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Theresa...just landlines would've run out of steam quick! Glad you enjoyed.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Oh, what a marvelous trip down memory lane...and I thought all we were going to talk about what landlines! :) Great Hub. Theresa

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      We have a tendency to quickly forget what we don't like DDE!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I didn't use an old telephone such as the one in the photo in a while and when I came to Croatia I used it for a while I didn't like it. Interesting about he land telephone looking back and now.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      How true PaisleeGal, we were so enamored of the new "things" that came on the scene. Just having a tv that was bigger than 13 inches was great even if it only got six channels. You're welcome for the memories, thanks for the vote.

    • PaisleeGal profile image

      Pat Materna 

      6 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      I remember all of the items your hub is about. There was even a time when we did not have a phone. And a period of couple yrs. when we did not have a TV... AGHAST!!! The size of all that stuff would never have fit into our pockets.

      In the mid 60's an aunt gave me and my siblings a tape recording machine. We would spend hours recording each other on those little reels. We loved it and thought we were the coolest kids in school!

      Thanks for the memories. Voted up!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I used to like the sound of the rotary dial as it clicked back to it's position Casimiro. As they say, "those were the days" ;) Thanks for the vote!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Still have an oak telephone stand. The Internet modem sits on top of it! :)

      What I really loved about the rotary dial days was that we had those classy letter prefixes for the phone numbers. Ours was "EM", which stood for Empire. EM4-4076 is an example. You can still here them in the old Perry Mason shows. Great hub, voted up!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Me too Glimmer. Each generation know something the other doesn't. It seems things change daily.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Sadly I know what a landline telephone is. I even know what a party line is. Oh well, my daughter knows lots of things that I don't, so I guess we are even. It's amazing how some things have changed so much.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Oh dear, I had forgotten about the 9 volt batteries! Thank you Gypsy for the reminder . Glad you enjoyed my hub!

    • Gypsy48 profile image


      6 years ago

      Well this wonderful hub brought back many memories. I was 12 years old when I got my first transistor radio, I was in heaven. I used my baby sitting money to make sure I always had a nine volt battery for it. I also had a huge collection of 45's. Ah! the good old days. Voted up and awesome.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      You are so right Rajan, I like the way you put it, just as prized as the ones today. Thank you for stopping by!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks for this trip back in time Mary. All those gadgets back then, were as prized as the current ones, are today. Must thank you for reviving some wonderful childhood memories.

      Voted up and beautiful.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      It's nice to know others have enjoyed the memories is always such a pleasure to see you.

      Great idea John...if you've had them this long you may as well keep them safe. Thanks for stopping by and voting.

      CarN, you cracked me up!

    • CarNoobz profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      LOL Yeah, how do you use those things anyway? There isn't even a "send" button?! Stupid phones...

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great hub. You just gave me an idea...I have old LP's (not many, just a few) stacked up and would like to keep them together. I'll have to go into one of those retro shops and see if they have a small record case so I can keep them neatly together.

      Voted up


    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      Hi Mary, I still remember when we got our landline connection first time. Thanks for this informative hub.


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Bob you truly flatter...though it did take me a while to figure out where to go with this title! When selling any antiques or collectibles, we have to be in the right place at the right time ;) Right back at you Bob X...

      WND your daughter was took me a while to master the roller blades, I spent a lot of time learning in, of all places, the cemetery, I can't imagine trying to learn while walking dogs! Bless Roscoe, he's always on the ball.

      Welcome to the club Audrey ;)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      Showing my age! I know all of these!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Very interesting and useful, as you say the past is always with us even with our new inventions. A brilliant write. Voted up.

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      6 years ago from Alabama

      I have my rotary phone. Got the roller skates, no key. Guess I have to find someone who has the key.

      When I first got my dogs, I wanted to borrow my daughter's rollerblades and take the dogs for a walk.( or run) She wouldn't let me cause she said rollerblades were different from what I was used to. Oh, just as well. I found an older bike and got on that with the dogs supposedly trying to enjoy their walk. They were so curious about the bike, I had to keep stopping. Roscoe was the only one who like it.

      Love this hub. What a fun read.

    • diogenes profile image


      6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      The ultmate skill of the knowledgeble wordsmith. Corrolating a bunch of nothing and making a very readable article out of it!

      Well done!

      I had a great "landline type" phone in Mexico, it was a cellfone but looked like a standard house phone and wasn't portable but great for dialing...didnt text either, i loved it!

      And I have an early eggbeater, circa 1890's...I put it on ebay and didnt get a bid!!

      Bob x

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      That's a really cute story byshea. I'll hear the sounds of those skates all my life, nothing like it ;)

    • byshea profile image


      6 years ago

      About 10 years ago my 6 year old nephew at the time was with me on a tour of the Midway aircraft carrier. On the bridge they had the old rotary phones. When I told him to call Grandma to order a pizza, he picked up the handset and proceeded to push his fingers in the holes of the rotary dial. With much despair he proclaimed the buttons were broke! Lol....

      Great hub! I faintly remember skating with a roller skate key until the brand new skate boots became available. I can still hear the sound of those metal wheels on the sidewalk.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Effer, you notice I remembered my phone number too? I'm going to plead the whole constitution!

      Ronnie, I do so declare you crack me up!

      Monis Mas, glad you enjoyed the gadgets from the past ;)

      Arun, you are so right about the memories. You are most welcome and thank you for reading.

      Moonlake, I'm thinking there's a hub coming about party lines ;) Thanks for the vote.

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      I still have an egg beater, a telephone stand, and an old phone. I do remember the party lines I hated them. We had people on our line the minute we started talking with anyone they started picking up. I got myself in trouble twice because of the party line, long story. Enjoyed your hub voted up.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image


      6 years ago from KOLKATA

      Great hub. With the advent of new technologies the old gadgets are being discarded. But they are associated with sweet memories and sentiments! Thanks for sharing.

    • Monis Mas profile image


      6 years ago

      I love those old gadgets! The egg beater "beats" me!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You did it again, I still have my Mom's rotary fun not only the grandkis but my own kids look at it strangely. Skate keys, even when you weren't skating, I came to borrow yours. The other items mentioned some I still have. Thanks for the Memories, I do so declare.....

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Our 3-digit number was 766.....(I couldn't have been more than 10 or 11)......when we got to the Big Time, it was YE4-3203......Now, How the H***, I remember that and I have no idea what I had for dinner last, we KNOW what it is, but I'm not talking...and you and bill need to plead the 5th as well!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Alecia you already have memories of things of the past...young people today don't know about tape decks ;) You are most welcome for the history lesson. Thank you for stopping by.

      SS, you, Paula & I are holding on to things for a reason and one day, we'll find out what it is :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I still have a landline! The grandkids like to play with it! I also have 45's and a record player! Don't use it much or listen to the 45's. Yet, I still have them. I'm sure there's a reason :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I skated growing up but I guess by the 90s they had gotten rid of the key. But I do remember land-lines pretty well with the conference calling and star 69. It was only when I went to college that we got cell phones.

      My parents owned a record player until I was about 8 or 9 but it really didn't get used. By then we had a tape deck in the stereo that we wore out until we finally switched to CDs.

      Thanks for the history lesson!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I love your attitude AND the fact that you remember all these good things from our past! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, it is always good to see you here.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Mary, what a trip down memory lane. The roller skate key, yep. Transistor radio, yep, still have one somewhere. The 45's, the egg beater, great memories. Does this show our age. Yep. But who cares, they are all a part of our lives and great memories. Loved this.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Bill I hope you had warm boots ... I think Paula's right, every time we open our mouths we give away how old we are :)

      Oh GF, you're the best. It doesn't surprise me you still have the phone. Our phone number when we were kids was EV8-7679. I still have my parents' 78's as well, tons of them. I always say I'm going to get rid of them but can't bring myself to do it. Roller skating was THE recreational thing to do! No crying GF, happy memories :) Love you too....angels be with you.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Til...Shhhhh...maybe we shouldn't tell bill that every Baby Boomer in the world, gives their age away when they speak.....about anything.

      This hub is a total winner! You had to know I would love it. Me and my stuck-in-the-'50's-'6o's-attitude. I'm happy when I'm walking Memory Lane.

      I SWEAR.....we had every single item in the pictures. In fact, I kept the rotary dial phone and it's in my room (not in use)...the phone we had before that didn't even have a dial...because the "operator" came on when you picked up the phone, and said, "Number please?".....and we had 3-digit phone numbers! OMG......How obsolete can we get? And yes, of course, when I was very young, we did have a party line.

      The '45's !! We had a brown plastic '45 player & could stack about 5 records and when one was over, the next would be released......Tons & tons of records.....My sister and split them up when we moved out into our own homes...but she got the player and most of the GOOD records...because "she was older!" LOL Believe it or not...I have my parent's '78's......the breakable records??

      You cannot know how those roller skates and the key, brought me back. Pat & would skate down in the basement for hours after dinner. We actually had FUN without video games and computers. Imagine that. I remember our Dad, keeping our skates in tip-top shape....oiling the wheels......oh, here I go again...I'm crying.

      I have a picture in my head of our mother using the egg beater.....

      This hub has done me in, gf. I absolutely love it......Thanks for the Memories....Love you.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are too funny! Great hub, Mary, and yes, I did walk uphill in the snow to school. LOL And yes, I remember party lines. That should tell everyone how old I am. :)


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