22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century

By Attila Nagy on at

It's possible that some of you have never seen a rotary phone in real life. It's likely that many of you have never used a rotary phone: heard the pulse take the place of the tone, mustered your patience as the dial rolls back it its reset, cursed a number with so many zeroes in it because it takes so long to call. And that's a shame, because rotary phones are awesome: physical of a time when the home phone was home decor. Here are some of our faves.

Experimental telephone manufactured by LM Ericsson in the 1920s. Handset is made of hard rubber.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Tekniska museet


The m33, circa 1931, was the fruit of a collaboration between the Electric Bureau in Oslo and AB Alpha workshops in Sundbyberg. Designers: Jean Heiberg and Johan Christian Bjerknes.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Tekniska museet


Western Electric #202 desk phone, 1930s.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Mark Mathosian


Gilded table model of ivory, distributed to larger LM Ericsson customers, 1930s.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Tekniska museet


Triple rotary phone at the New York Stock Exchange master control panel, circa 1950.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: George Pickow/Three Lions/Getty Images


Drive-in public phone from the 1950s.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Mark Mathosian


A 1950s woman using a telephone headset as she irons.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images


Ericofon, aka the cobra phone. Designed in the late 1940s by a design team including Gösta Thames, Ralph Lysell, and Hugo Blomberg. Made by Ericsson Company of Sweden, production began in 1954. It's in MOMA now

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Marcin Wichary/Holger.Ellgaard/Wikimedia Coommons


A red Swedish bakelite phone with unique vertical rotary dialer, 1955.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Tekniska museet


The Princess Phone was designed by Henry Dreyfuss and introduced by the Bell System in 1959.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Mark Mathosian


Another cool Swedish design: telephone embodied in the form of an aircraft, circa 1960.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Tekniska museet


This is rocket science: director of NASA Wernher von Braun on the phone, 1961.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Keystone/Getty Images//Joe Haupt


Not exactly telephone, but this photo must be here. A system for dialling for a drink: installed in the Flag Inn pub at Bromley Cross in Lancashire, UK. It was devised by thirsty electronics expert Dick Millington. October 1963.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Keystone/Getty Images


1964: A Japanese telephone operator in Tokyo use the new View Phone, made by Toshiba Shibaura Electric Co.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Keystone/Getty Images


Classic black bakelite phone from 1968.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Tekniska museet


Toshiba's Model 500 View Phone, being tested at the company's Tokyo headquarters, 1968.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


A transparent telephone at an exhibition, 'This Super-Phonic Age' produced by London's Telephone Service at Gamages Store, London, 1969.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Michael Webb/Keystone/Getty Images


Phone with a dial built into the handset, c1970.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Theron LaBounty


The Disco Queen, from the collection of the Museum of Communications in Seattle, probably from the Seventies.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Marcin Wichary


1977 Western Electric Sculptura.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: mrdorkesq/John Cope


Jeff Booker demonstrating his prize-winning 'phone of the future' design, 1982.

22 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century Photo: Central Press/Getty Images


We're sure you have a favorite rotary phone design. Show us in the comments!

(Top image by: Tekniska museet.)