Vision

Imagine a world where universal, reliable analog copper landline service is the norm, not the exception. Imagine a world where you can hear every word the party on the other end of the line is saying. Imagine a world where you don’t need to worry about your conversations being listened in on or intercepted. Imagine a world where you can send a telegram half-way across the world, and it’s read less than an hour after you thought up of it. Imagine a world where you didn’t get fired for providing the best service possible. Imagine a world where companies took pride in their services, and didn’t neglect them. Imagine a world where the telephone company is polite, courteous, and always ready to help.

Imagine a world where the Bell System is reinstated.

The primetime for voice communications has, no doubt, long since passed. But what if we could bring it back again? What if…

  • Payphones were once again on every other street-corner, and were clean, accessible, and affordable?
  • You could dial “0” for an operator, and your call would be answered by a courteous human operator, not a computer?
  • You could dial “0” for operator assistance, and this operator assistance was provided free of charge?
  • You could dial “0” in an emergency, and the operator would stay on the line with you, just as did during Orson Welle’s radio reproduction of the War of the Worlds? (About 2% of the US still lacks 911 service and must dial 0 in an emergency. But wouldn’t it be nice if anyone could dial 0 in an emergency?)
  • You could dial “0” for information or to make a collect call, person-to-person call, station-to-station call, or third-number call? You could say goodbye to dialing 11-digit numbers, like 1 (800) COLLECT or 1 (800) CALLATT, just to make a collect call?
  • You could call “411” for information free of charge, instead of having to dial 11 digit numbers like 1 (800) FREE411?
  • You could simply look in the White Pages or Yellow Pages for any listed number you cared to call?
  • The Telephone Directory was actually a meaningful source of information, not plastered in advertisements?
  • You could dial 1 (714) 733-9969 and reach the Mojave Phone Booth itself and not a recording commemorating its death at the hands of Pacific Bell?
  • You only had to dial 7 digits for local calls, and 11 digits for calls to other area codes, period? We think 10-digit dialing is as dumb as you do.
  • You didn’t need to buy pulse-to-tone converters for your rotary phone, because pulse dialing is supported just fine with analog landlines?
  • You could send a telegram, over real electrical wires, cheaply and quickly?
  • You could leave your home and immerse yourself in reality without being plagued by the onslaught of wireless devices? Cell phones, once non-existent, were discouraged in much the same manner as tobacco? Wireless, once used recklessly without any concern for human or environmental health, had been eradicated and replaced by safe, wired communications? Brain cancer was no longer the #1 cancer killer of children?
  • You could call 9-1-1 and know they would know exactly where you are, all because you called using your landline?
  • You could work for Ma Bell – as a linemen, technician, switchboard operator, or scientists – and feel secure, knowing you have one of the most stable, unionized, well-paying jobs that exists?
  • You could hang up your receiver if someone called you and pick up another extension without having to worry about the line disconnecting? (Called Subscriber Held, demonstrated here and here)
  • You didn’t have to play games with the phone company every month to not have to fork over your pension to pay your phone bill?
  • You could dial a ringback number provided by the telephone company to make your line ring, and not spend hours searching online forums to find out what that number is?

Sound like a dream? Even a scam? This will all be reality once the Bell System is reinstated.