• U.S.

43 Years Ago In TIME

2 minute read
Melissa August, Harriet Barovick, Elizabeth L. Bland, Sean Gregory, David Robinson and Rebecca Winters

As cell phones proliferate and become a necessary fixture of business and family life, it’s worth recalling the days when Americans first embraced the TELEPHONE. In its 1959 cover story, TIME was enchanted by its many uses:

The telephone has done more than diplomats, clergymen or scientists to knit the world together. Taken for granted by kings and butchers alike, it is an indispensable companion that serves without favor or prejudice. It has reached into every civilized corner of the world–and often brought civilization with it. From its wires spring the words of history in the making, the chatter of daily life. English Novelist Arnold Bennett called it “the proudest and the most poetical achievement of the American people”…Millions of Americans pick up the telephone to get the weather or the correct time, shopping news, stock market quotations, recorded prayers, bird watchers’ bulletins, and even (in Boston) advice to those contemplating suicide. Teen-agers could hardly live without the telephone–and many parents can hardly live with it. Twisted into every position–so long as it is uncomfortable–teen-agers keep the busy signals going with deathless conversation: “What ya doin? Yeah. I saw him today. Yeah. I think he likes me. Wait’ll I change ears. Whaat? Hold on till I get a glass of milk.”

–TIME, Feb. 23, 1959

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