The first push-button telephone goes into service.
Bell Telephone introduced the first commercial push-button telephone on November 18, 1963. It was installed first in Carnegie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. The push-button phone replaced the rotary dial phone, which had been in use for decades. Customers had to be convinced to use the new phones. Bell was quick off the mark with their interactive display from the 1963 Seattle World’s Fair, showing why users should switch to the new push-button phones.
The push-button telephone was only one part of the package that completed the modern telephone system. One other major part was automating the signals sent down the wire after you pushed the buttons. To fill this gap, touch-tone dialing was also introduced on November 18, 1963 to speed the transmission of telephone numbers. Rotary dial phones had used pulse dialing, a much slower method of routing a call to an exchange to connect with another number.
Until rotary dial phones were introduced, telephone operators at an exchange grabbed plugs on the end of long cord and pushed them into a jack on a board, connecting someone placing a call with the party they were calling, or with a long-distance operator in another city. While I was a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology in the mid-1960s, I had a part-time job as the night shift operator on the internal version of such a switchboard inside the University Club of Chicago, connecting members in their rooms with other rooms, the dining room, room service or an outside line by inserting a plug into a jack.