By Joel Johnson at 1:11 pm Tue, Sep 4, 2007
Cropped image from a 1973 ad for the "Card Callmaker," a device that uses punch cards to store phone numbers for automatic dialing.
Vintage Ad [Flickr] (Thanks, DD!)
That exact phone plays a pivotal role in the classic (alright mediocre) episode of Columbo titled Ransom for a Dead Man.
I like the handy card file for your contacts. It beats scrolling through a list on a tiny screen and calling the wrong “Steve”…..
#1: Well it would, it’s a British GPO 746 phone. They were standard issue from 1967 to 1980 so most homes in the UK would have one. The Card Callmaker is an interesting beast in itself, a Brazil-esque response to the need for a phone to remember numbers. It was probably made by Plessey for the GPO and used plastic cards to ‘remember’ phone numbers. Blanks were supplied with a tool to punch out the holes. At around the same time the GPO also had the Tape Callmaker, which as it suggests, stored phone numbers on tape. These things were separate devices and very much not home products, huge chunks of two-tone plastic that would sit on the desk next to the phone that required an engineer to install them. On the whole, a Rolodex was far easier…
We had that kind of card callmaker built into a Bell Telephone at our house when I was a kid. Loved playing with those plastic punch-out cards. You would insert the card in the slot to dial and it would pop back out when it was done. Very cool.
There was the old Marlon Brando / George C. Scott movie, The Formula. Where Brando’s character uses a version of the tech in the final scene. It is the first thing I thought of seeing the picture
The Phil Dick novel _Ubik_ features a scene where, when the gang of Runciter Associates employees flees the moon, they make a phone call to Earth using a phone that operates on some kind of punch cards. It sounds very much like this device, but was written several years earlier.
What’s up with the creepy zombie hand-model?
My dad had one of these. He thought he was c-o-o-l! It was sweet. He was. Dennis
Such a device would be handy for IPv6…
Cool! My Dad had one of these. I’d totally forgotten about it – I must have been 6 or 7 when I used to make up cards for him. You’ve immediately evoked the wonderful tactile experience of punching holes in the cards using a template, and riffling my fingers down the back to dislodge what I now know to be called “hanging chads”. It also made a satisfyingly clunky noise when processing the cards. It’s almost inevitable that I would have tried to hack it somehow (e.g. by trying to see what happened if I punched in unauthorised patterns of holes) but sadly I can’t remember whether that had any effect…
I used to have a card with my home phone number on it. My dad (NYTel) had one in his office.
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