20 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century

20 Beautiful Rotary Phones From The Past Century

It’s possible that some of you have never seen a rotary phone in real life. It’s likely that many of you have never used a rotary phone: heard the pulse take the place of the tone, mustered your patience as the dial rolls back it its reset, cursed a number with so many zeroes in it because it takes so long to call. And that’s a shame, because rotary phones are awesome: physical of a time when the home phone was home decor. Here are some of our faves.

LM Ericsson’s Experimental Telephone

This experimental phone was manufactured by LM Ericsson in the 1920s. Interestingly, the handset is made of hard rubber rather than something like wood.

Picture: Tekniska museet

The M33

Built in circa 1931, the M33 was the fruit of a collaboration between the Electric Bureau in Oslo and AB Alpha workshops in Sundbyberg. Designers: Jean Heiberg and Johan Christian Bjerknes.

Picture: Tekniska museet

Western Electric #202 desk phone.

Made in the 1930s.

Picture: Mark Mathosian

LM Ericsson’s gilded handset

Gilded table model of ivory, distributed to larger LM Ericsson customers in the 1930s.

Picture: Tekniska museet

Triple Rotary Phone

This phone was in the New York Stock Exchange’s master control panel, circa 1950.

Picture: George Pickow/Three Lions/Getty Images

Drive-in public phone

Built in the 1950s.

Picture: Mark Mathosian


Also known as the “Cobra Phone” the Ericofon was designed in the late 1940s by a design team including Gösta Thames, Ralph Lysell, and Hugo Blomberg. Made by Ericsson Company of Sweden, production began in 1954. It’s in MOMA now.

Picture: Marcin Wichary/Holger.Ellgaard/Wikimedia Coommons

Swedish Bakelite

A red Swedish bakelite phone with unique vertical rotary dialler, 1955.

Picture: Tekniska museet

The Princess Phone

Designed by Henry Dreyfuss and introduced by the Bell System in 1959.

Picture: Mark Mathosian

Aircraft Phone

Another cool Swedish design: telephone embodied in the form of an aircraft, circa 1960.

Picture: Tekniska museet

Rotary Phones At NASA

This is rocket science: director of NASA Wernher von Braun on the phone, 1961.

Picture: Keystone/Getty Images//Joe Haupt

View Phone

1964: A Japanese telephone operator in Tokyo use the new View Phone, made by Toshiba Shibaura Electric Co.

Picture: Keystone/Getty Images

Bakelite, 1968

Classic black bakelite phone from 1968.

Picture: Tekniska museet

Toshiba’s Model 500 View Phone

Here’s the Model 500 being tested at the company’s Tokyo headquarters, 1968.

Picture: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Transparent Telehpone

A transparent telephone at an exhibition, ‘This Super-Phonic Age’ produced by London’s Telephone Service at Gamages Store, London, 1969.

Picture: Michael Webb/Keystone/Getty Images

Phone with a dial built into the handset, c1970.

Picture: Theron LaBounty

The Disco Queen

From the collection of the Museum of Communications in Seattle, probably from the ’70s.

Picture: Marcin Wichary

1977 Western Electric Sculptura

Picture: mrdorkesq/John Cope

The Phone Of The Future

Jeff Booker demonstrating his prize-winning ‘phone of the future’ design, 1982.

Picture: Central Press/Getty Images

Picture: Tekniska museet/Flickr