The 1930s were key in the history of telecommunications. In 1930, transoceanic phone services connected Argentina, Chile and Uruguay to the rest of the world, and Congress passed the Communications Act. The telephones of that generation reflect this leap into the modern era, with progressive and dynamic designs. Western Electric manufactured nearly all American phones of the 1930s under contract with Bell Systems.
The 51AL is a candlestick phone. A candlestick phone consists of a freestanding stick with a transmitter on the top, and a removable receiver connected with a wire. The first Western Electric candlestick phone was introduced in 1921. The 51AL, a direct descendant of this phone, became outdated with the introduction of desktop phones in the late 1920s. Despite this, Antique Telephone History reports that the candlestick phone was manufactured consistently throughout the 1930s.
The D1 desk telephone was introduced in 1930 as a replacement for the B1 desk telephone. The B1 was introduced to the market in 1927, though it was quickly replaced by the refined, more user-friendly D1. Among the modified accouterments are the oval base, which replaced the circular base of the B1, and an updated receiver cradle, both of which were made an aluminum alloy. The D1 was occasionally referred to as a 202 telephone, a designation related to a type of phone service available in the 1930s. However, according to Old Time Phones, the D1 was equipped for both 202 and 102 service.
The 302 desk set is a Western Electric telephone originally manufactured in 1937. The model was the precursor to modern, square household and office phones. The Western Electric 500, which was a market leader from 1952 to 1965 and produced into the 1980’s, is the progeny of the 302. The 302 was initially cast in aluminum, though during America’s involvement in Word War II, it was made from thermo-plastic, as nearly all metal went toward the war effort. The F1 handset, which was released in 1936, was included in the 302. This handset was smaller and lighter than its predecessor.
The C1 was the first mounted phone introduced to the American market. Western Electric released the telephone to the public in 1930 and manufactured it until 1937. Often referred to as a hanging handset, the phone combines the receiver and rotary dialer of the desk set phones with the side-mounted cradle and overall vertical design of the candlestick phones. In 1937, the G1 replaced the C1, with the receiver mounted on the front of the phone as an additional space-saving measure.
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