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Touch Tone Phones

November 18, 2014

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Profile America — Tuesday, November 18th. We still use the word "dial" to refer to the act of calling someone on the phone -- even though likely most of us now have never used a rotary phone or seen one, except in old movies and TV shows. Push-button, or touch-tone, phones made their debut on this date in 1963. At the time, the service was an extra cost option and was available only in two cities in Pennsylvania. It didn't take long, however, for the speed of placing calls on the new phones to make them popular. In 1963, 81 percent of U.S. homes had telephones. That percentage grew to become almost universal, but the landline percentage has been dropping, as cell phones more and more become the phone of choice. Now, 89 percent of American households have cell phones. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Push Button Telephone
Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, p. 783
Recent household cell phone data

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: October 23, 2014