Telephone Advertisements Throughout The Ages

Western Electric 1910 telephone ad

Next year will mark 140 years since the invention of the telephone. The telephone has come a long way since 1876. Of course since then, continuous enhancements and improvements have made it more efficient and easier to use. And, over the years, many companies have tried their luck in marketing the phone to the public. Let’s have a fun look at the different advertisements that have been used to sell telephones over the decades.


The ads show people that an improved phone is befitting the general public. It illustrates the quality of raw materials used in each phone and hi-lights the great changes that were made in the 30 years since the telephone was invented.


These advertisements show the telephone as a great tool for industrial progress. The telephone is helping to grow the nation because more phone lines are connecting across the country. For the first time people are able to talk from coast to coast easier and faster than anyone thought possible.


In the 1930s advertisements were showing people that the telephone could not only be used to connect friends & families but also connect businesses locally and across the world. Telephone companies start using the ‘you get some free, but you need to do something for us first’ technique to entice new customers.


Companies started to use photos or photo-realistic drawings in ads, using mostly female models. They start to move from black and white ads to full-colour ads. Once again, showing off the telephone as a key to good customer service and showcasing the advancement in communication technology.


In the ’50s the very familiar rotary phone style is introduced. Having a telephone starts to become a status symbol and a must-have in the more “well-to-do” households. If you’re over the age of 30 you may have used one, or at least seen one at your grandmother’s house. Customization was the name of the game; from the colour of the phone to having control over loudness of the ring.

The phone companies also introduced the public phone booth. From a small divided off section that was usually found in train stations to the large metal/glass box at the corner of most city streets. Almost obsolete today, they were made famous when they were used in “Superman” to do a quick change from Clark Kent to Superman.


If you grew up between the ’60s and the mid 80’s you will remember there being a phone on the wall in the kitchen. Since the cost to buy (or in the early days, lease) a phone was becoming less and less expensive, telephone companies started promoting “long-distance” calling to out of town family and even businesses. Of course, the phone companies were charging prohibitive prices for those calls.


The big push for phone companies in the ’70s was getting people to add a second or third extension phone in their house. The ad campaigns were directed to husbands telling them that getting an extension phone will make their wives very happy. Also, phone companies started styling phones to be more feminine looking.


There was a huge leap in telephone technology with the introduction of the Cellular Telephone to the public. While it is so common now to take your phone with you everywhere, it was a luxury concept in the ’80s. Cellular technology wasn’t the only advancement; the personal answering machine was common in every household. Now, you didn’t have to worry about missing a call. Advertisers began to show off these devices by making them the main focus in ads. The 90’s would continue to show off cellular technology, with phones becoming smaller and less expensive so that the mass public could now own them with ease.

History of telelephone

I hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane as we explored telephone advertisement, and also the technological advancements over the last 120 years.

One more fact you may not know. Music-on-hold was in its early capabilities in 1962! That’s not so long ago. Those poor people before 1962 had to endure complete silence while they waited on-hold. And we all know what waiting in silence is like, always seeming longer than it actually is. Of course, only companies able to afford the latest phone system were able to take advantage of this rather expensive feature. Today every business can afford to use their hold lines effectively! On-Hold Marketing Inc has been helping companies since 1987 to make sure that there is no silence on our clients’ phone lines and we can help you too! Give us a call today at 888-466-4653 or contact us for a truly affordable quote.

Technology is best when it brings people together.” – Matt Mullenweg

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