The Dumb Phones We Had Before Smart Phones: Busy Signals and Kinky Cords

Left: Joan Collins on the set of film 'Alfie Darling,' October 1974. (Photo by Kent Gavin/Mirrorpix/Getty Images) Right: A Nazi answers a very large old phone in 'Top Secret!' (1984). Source: IMDB

Smart phones (or cell phones, or mobile phones) are a vast improvement over yesterday's telephones, with their clunky handsets, spiral cords, rotary dials, and busy signals. But that's history for you -- the old dumb phones were once the cutting edge of technology. It was once amazing to think that one could dial a number and talk to a person far away over a wire. Now that sounds like a 7th grade science project. Cell phones are such an everyday and indispensable part of our lives that we have to remind ourselves of the routines or hassles of phoning back in the day.