This 24" by 20" poster was distributed in 1976
to Bell System customers for free to those responding to ads placed in consumer magazines.
This 1976 poster's red-white-and-blue color scheme along with the stars at the top are
symbolic of the United States' 200th year anniversary and the telephone's 100th year
anniversary. This poster is very rare and I haven't found a supplier for it.
In order to be able to read the descriptions that
appear under each of the thirty photo images in this poster, I scanned the
poster in six sections (that's all that would fit on the scanner at one time!)
at 600 dots per inch. I then "spliced" the six cropped sectional scans together
and created a HUGE file (about 2 Megabytes).
You can view a close-up of each phone shown in the poster
below simply move your mouse over the one you want to view and click! You can also
"zoom" in on the Bell System description of the poster by clicking on the poster
Left to Right - First row:
LIQUID TELEPHONE - "Mr. Watson, come here; I want you!" It was the night
of March 10. These first historic words, uttered by Alexander Graham Bell when he spilled
some sulphuric acid he had been using in his tests, climaxed two years of extensive
BELL'S CENTENNIAL MODEL - Progressing rapidly, Bell demonstrated his invention at
the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. A typical reaction was that of Emperor Dom
Pedro of Brazil; "My God! It talks!" One judge called Bell's invention "the
most wonderful thing in America."
- FIRST COMMERCIAL TELEPHONE - The camera-like opening served as both transmitter
and receiver, making mouth-to-ear shifts necessary. Developed by Bell in 1876, it went
into service in 1877 when a banker leased two instruments and a line to connect his Boston
office and his home in Somerville.
BUTTERSTAMP - Bell's first set with a combined receiver-transmitter that could be
held in the hand, looked like a butterstamp - hence its name. Designed in 1877, it was in
service when the world's first switchboard opened in New Haven in 1878. The pushbutton
signaled the operator.
1878 - WALL SET -
Switching the same instrument from mouth to ear proved confusing for some people, so a
second wooden transmitter-receiver was added. Either could be used for talking or
listening. Turning the crank generated power to signal the operator.
1880 - BLAKE -
United States population was now 50 million, and the improved voice clarity of the Blake
carbon transmitter greatly aided the fledging telephone service. It was invented by
Francis Blake, Jr., based on work by Thomas Edison. Here, it is used in a primitive desk
Left to Right - Second row:
MAGNETO WALL SET - This handsome, oak-encased instrument, the first telephone
built for the Bell System by Western Electric, used Bell's hand receiver and Blakes'
transmitter. It was the standard for many years and one of the first to place the crank
more conveniently on the side.
- LONG DISTANCE TRANSMITTER - In the year that the Statue of Liberty was dedicated
in New York harbor, the search for improved long distance transmission took a major step
forward with this model, whose platinum diaphragm improved clarity. The instrument shown
was actually used by Bell.
1892 - DESK SET
- More compact and decorative are the features of this Gay Nineties souvenir. The carbon
transmitter is less unwieldy, the receiver, called a "watch case," much smaller,
and the ornate base reflects the era's taste. 1892 also saw New York-to-Chicago service
1897 - DESK SET -
America was on the verge of its great transformation from a rural to an urban nation, and
the telephone was beginning to take the shape that would be familiar during that change.
This early desk set, make of cast brass, was a refinement of previous models.
1900 - COMMON
BATTERY - Improving telephone service is a constant goal. The earliest sets were
voice-powered. Next came the wet battery, which occasionally leaked on the rug; then the
dry battery. This model, a major advance, received its power from the telephone exchange,
hence its name.
MAGNETO WALL SET - Here is an improved version of the set with a built-in
generator to provide current for signaling the operator; almost exactly similar telephones
were in general use from the late 1890's through the 1930's. Note enclosed receiver
terminals, an improvement of 1907.
Left to Right - Third row:
1913 - WALL SET
- The wall telephone was becoming more compact. Instruments like this, forerunners of
today's home intercom systems, were in general service. They were advertised by Western
Electric as "the greatest little step-savers that ever helped a housewife."
1919 - DIAL
TELEPHONE - Coast-to-coast phone service had begun in 1915, and the United States
had topped 100 million in population. Dial service was coming in strongly. Invented in
1892, it was many years before the complex equipment had been sufficiently developed for
use in larger cities.
1928 - DESK SET -
The Roaring Twenties gave America a new look in telephones when the combined
receiver-transmitter idea, used by linemen since 1878, was sufficiently improved for
general service. A streamlined version of European sets, it was nicknamed "the French
"300" TYPE DESK SET - A major innovation that offered added convenience
to telephone subscribers placed the bell in the base, previously housed in a separate box.
The "300" served throughout World War II while the energies of most telephone
people were devoted to defense work.
TELEPHONE KEY SET - The "300" also offered added convenience for
business users. It incorporated within the set one "hold" button and five others
for calling, signaling or access to other extensions. Early models had metal housings, but
plastic was substituted in the early 1940's.
"500" TYPE DESK SET - After catching up with the immense backlog of work
caused by the war, the Bell System brought out this new model with improved talking and
hearing qualities and an adjustable volume control for the bell. Rugged and functional, it
is constantly being improved.
Left to Right - Fourth row:
- "500" TYPE COLOR DESK SET - The Korean War was over, and the Bell
System expanded its "500" line to include color, making the telephone a
decorative household item. Although some color telephones were available earlier, they had
not gained widespread popularity.
1956 - WALL
TELEPHONE - The telephone returns to the wall in this companion piece to the
"500" desk set. The wall set is most often used in businesses and homes where
counter and desk space is at a premium. It is popular in such home areas as basements and
SPEAKERPHONE SET - Hands-free telephoning arrived with the introduction of the
Speakerphone, which also permits conference calls between groups at different locations.
[Shown] is the "4A" model, introduced in 1974, which has improved sound
qualities and an omnidirectional microphone.
- CALL DIRECTOR TELEPHONE - Keeping pace with the increasingly complex
communications needs of its business customers, the Bell System introduced this set
designed to handle several incoming, outgoing, and inter-office calls simultaneously. It
is available in both 18 and 30-button models.
PRINCESS TELEPHONE - The desk set received a smart, new look. Compactness,
attractive styling and illuminated dial (it lights up when you lift the handset or you can
keep it on as a night light) contribute to the all-around usefulness of the Princess set.
It also comes with a Touch-Tone dial.
TOUCH-TONE TELEPHONE - As America neared the 200 million mark in population, the
Bell System heralded a new era in telephoning services with push-button calling. Combined
with electronic central offices, Touch-Tone service will expand the uses of the telephone
Left to Right - Fifth row:
TRIMLINE TELEPHONE - The 12-button Touch-Tone Trimline set combines the handset
and "dial" in one lightweight, attractive unit. Although only ten buttons are
needed for today's  telephone need, the two "extra" buttons prepare these
sets for future communications services.
PICTUREPHONE SET - Men walked on the moon and a new model of telephone that make
it possible to see the person to whom you're talking was market-tested. The Mod II set has
a feature for individual or group viewing. Major use is for visual conferencing between
- TOUCH-A-MATIC TELEPHONE - The Touch-A-Matic set is the first telephone with a
solid state memory. At the touch of a single button, it can automatically dial any of 31
pre-recorded numbers. It is one of many communications advances that derive from the
invention of the transistor by Bell Labs.
DESIGN LINE TELEPHONE - To continue to meet its customers' widening preference,
the Bell System introduced a series of ten antique and modern phones created to fit any
decor. The Celebrity (left) and the Candlestick. Other sets use rich woods, leathers and
COM KEY 416 TELEPHONE - This is the primary unit of a compact office
communications system with many new features not found in a conventional system. Solid
state circuitry in the telephone units enable the system to operate without extra
TRANSACTION TELEPHONE - As the telephone marks its 100th birthday, the Bell System
offers a phone to make shopping more convenient. The Transaction telephone links with a
bank's or credit bureau's computer to verify balances or transfer funds. It can also
perform inventory control jobs.