Progress, efficiency, technology, rotary phone; My phone rebuttal

Dennis Warden; Connie Warden

What doesn't fit in this headine? This is not a hard question. A five-year old could get it right.

Since I finished college in 1982, newspapers have made tremendous changes thanks to advancement in technology. Here at Warden Publishing we have always kept up with these advances. 

The reason is simple. All of this has made producing a newspaper easier, faster and less expensive.

When my father, Don, started working at The Republican, newspaper pages were printed one at a time on a letter press using lead type with text of the story produced on a linotype machine by my grandfather Ralph Warden.

I never worked with lead type. When I started work here, the newspaper was using a large computer the size of a desk. Two employees would type stories on a keyboard. Their machine would spit out yellow paper about one inch wide filled with holes. That tape was then run through the large computer which used light and chemicals to put the type for a story on photographic paper.

The paper was then waxed — which worked like stick glue, but you could move it and reuse it. Next a large camera the size of a room was used to take a picture of each page.

From that negative the plate was made that went on the offset press.

Today, thanks to the desktop Macintosh computers we use, everything can be designed on a computer which is then sent over the internet to the printer. It’s called pagination.

Another modern advancement was the introduction of digital photography in the late 90s. Before digital cameras, we purchased Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film in 100 foot rolls. Loaded manually, 5 foot at a time into regular film canisters, we could take approximately 750 pictures for each 100 feet of film.

After the pictures were taken, the photographer spent a couple hours in the dark room each Tuesday developing the film and printing pictures.

I can recall several four letter words coming out of the dark room from our editor/photographer Bob McKee.

What used to take hours now takes a couple minutes.

And now my wife wants to hold back progress and keep a rotary phone still in use at the Unterrified Democrat.

I’m sure many of our readers have never used a rotary phone. I can barely remember using a rotary phone. The dial was inside the handle with the mouthpiece and earpiece at our home.

I remember my grandparents still used the old black rotary phone with the dial separate from the hand piece.

It did not take long for our home to purchase one of the new modern touch tone phones. We had a modern house with all the conveniences — except a dishwasher. That was a job for my sister and I. Funny but my parents never purchased a dishwasher until we left for college. That’s another story.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with a rotary phone here is a little history. 

The first patent of the rotary phone was in 1892. It became common in American households in 1919 — 100 years ago. From the 1980s onward, the rotary dial was gradually supplanted by dual-tone multi-frequency push-button dialing, first introduced to the public at the 1962 World’s Fair. 

It’s amazing that this phone at the UD still works. I wouldn’t think it would be usable with today’s phone system.

What do you think? Should I leave a phone that became obsolete in 1962 plugged up and working, or should I remove it and set it on a shelf as a conversation starter?

If you want to see the phone you can stop by the UD office in Linn at 300 East Main Street (Highway 50). 

Connie is usually in the office from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and sometimes Wednesday. 

She will be glad to demonstrate it. Just don’t ask her to make a long distance call on it. It takes too long.


My phone rebuttal

It’s a simple thing, but an important one. Time — sometimes we feel we don’t have enough — and because of that we try to rush through things and seem to always be in a hurry. 

Hence the importance, I feel (contrary to my husband) of holding onto the good ole’ rotary phone at the UD office. This simple device reminds me as I’m carefully dialing each number that we need to slow down and enjoy the simpler things in life.

True, I enjoy using our microwave at home and how I love texting our kids and receiving a fairly immediate response, but the phone that sits on my desk at the UD reminds me that not all things in life should be done in a rush.

Will I lose this battle and receive a new phone complete with a hold button?

Yes I’m sure I will. 

But I will not lose the war.

I will insist that the rotary phone remain somewhere within the office walls — if nothing else — as a reminder that now and then we need to forgo technology and reach for a slower pace, reach for a version of a phone that been around since 1892, almost as long as the UD itself.