1959 Newsreel: Make Phone Calls – From Cars!

British moviegoers in 1959 marveled at the latest miracle of modern technology -- a radio setup that lets you make and receive phone calls in your car.

This clip from the newsreel company British Pathé describes how two radio stations let drivers within range make calls to any phone in Britain and Ireland. In the video, stilted callers demonstrate how to place a call.

Be sure to stay to enjoy the facepalmmy sexist humor at the end.

Want another? This 1959 British Pathé newsreel features a retina-burning green handset and a demonstration of a gloriously complicated homemade answering machine. It's followed by a professionally made electronic answerphone that looks equally formidable.

Want to find out about the latest mobile technology from this century? Visit Light Reading's dedicated Mobile content channel.

And finally, these resourceful 1922 flappers make their own mobile phone out of some wire and a fire hydrant.

"It's Eve's portable wireless 'phone -- and won't hubby have a time when he has to carry one!" says the title card.

Won't he just?

Love the hats.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

jabailo 10/24/2014 | 4:05:48 PM
Re: Amazing I've argued that perhaps the notion of Privacy is very recent in modern society and only available, in the way many describe, for a brief period.   When I think of privacy, the kind of anonymous, live anywhere and do what you want lifestyle, it probably may have been at its peak in early twentieth century America.  That's about the only time when the dispersive technologies -- like the automobile -- were way ahead of the monitoring technologies.   Thus, every gangster movie where people could rob a bank, or kidnap someone, and make a "getaway" never to be found.  Money was untraceable.   Phones would take too long to be tapped even if they could.  There weren't helicopters everywhere.

But before then, people didn't have cars.  Yes, they could run into the hills, but then what?  You still needed to come into town some time for clothes and maybe food and so on.  And towns were very small and everyone knew each others business!   So, yes, we now have electronic nosybuddies but we used to have...real nosybuddies!  And it was difficult to get your hands on any kind of currency if you weren't a nobleman, a tradesman or .. a thief!  All of which required access to some kind of society.

thebulk 10/24/2014 | 1:06:00 PM
Re: Future generations I do not think we need to wait for future generations to see how silly it really is. 
smkinoshita 10/24/2014 | 11:14:43 AM
Re: Amazing "Also, in the first video, I love the irony of the caller safely having a chauffer take the wheel so he wasn't conversing on the phone and driving at the same time.  Yet, there was no compunction for both tanking up with a few pints before continuing on to their sales call (!?)  Guess that's how things got done back then!"

I guess so!

Although it's clear that we don't pay enough attention to history.  I think in the future, the difference will be distribution.  They'll look at our quaint services like "Kickstarter" and "Paetron" and smile with the irony (Providing our future offspring are still alive and healthy).

Who knows.  Maybe in the future people will be offering their services remotely or on delivery, using advanced mobile communications to be on-call and on the move as required making use of a systems that use a collection of data provided by our biology and embedded chip instead of a password.

Where being chipless and unable to be monitored by our governments is criminal.  They'll look at laugh at the folly of being unable to receive an advisary medical diagnosis when our biorythms fluxate alarmingly while also wishing they had our freedom of going to the bathroom without someone knowing it.
jabailo 10/24/2014 | 10:20:14 AM
Re: Amazing I'm glad you used that word...innovation.   While we think of the last three decades as times of innovation, in some sense we see examples of many of our cherished technologies having been conceived, designed, and even implemented (!) much earlier on.

What we seem to have done recently is popularlized it.  Replicated, made it cheaper and put it into many more hands.  But it was in use as demostrated much earlier on.  There are other examples of this.  The Univac exhibition at the 1964 World's Fair in NYC had a complete online search system that combined the catalogs from several remote libraries all over the country and you could access and query it using a terminal called the Uniset.  In other words...they built an Internet!

Also, in the first video, I love the irony of the caller safely having a chauffer take the wheel so he wasn't conversing on the phone and driving at the same time.  Yet, there was no compunction for both tanking up with a few pints before continuing on to their sales call (!?)  Guess that's how things got done back then!
Mitch Wagner 10/24/2014 | 10:15:55 AM
Future generations Future generations will see video of us walking around with our faces down to our phones, or standing and holding our phones high to take video, and think we look very silly indeed. 
Susan Fourtané 10/24/2014 | 6:18:50 AM
For tomorrow is the robots' age How nice, Mitch. It's always fascinating to see the super advanced technology from previous decades and the predictions, like the man at the end of the second video envisioning the robots' age. 

Then, when you stop to think about it, you see that it took quite a while to develop those first ideas of mobile phones, answering machines, and electronics systems. Then again, it has been recently that all these technology has advanced quite fast. Very interesting. 

I love the hats, too. :) 

thebulk 10/24/2014 | 5:12:49 AM
Amazing these are simply amazing! It's fairly primitive to us, but think of the level of innovation it represents for the time.
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