1930 U.S. Senate Bill Proposed to Ban Rotary Dial Phones

A resolution sponsored by West Virginia Senator Carter Glass proposed to remove rotary dial phones from the U.S. Capitol and senators’ offices in 1930:

Whereas dial telephones are more difficult to operate than are manual telephones; and Whereas Senators are required, since the installation of dial phones in the Capitol, to perform the duties of telephone operators in order to enjoy the benefits of telephone service; and Whereas dial telephones have failed to expedite telephone service; Therefore be it resolved that the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate is authorized and directed to order the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. to replace with manual phones within 30 days after the adoption of this resolution, all dial telephones in the Senate wing of the United States Capitol and in the Senate office building.

The resolution initially passed on May 22, 1930, but a compromise was reached before the rotary phones were to be removed from all senators’ offices:

One day before the scheduled removal of all dial phones, Maryland Senator Millard Tydings offered a resolution to give senators a choice. It appeared that some of the younger senators actually preferred the dial phones.

Changing habits and adopting new tools into the daily work flow was just as much a challenge in 1930 as it is today. Sometimes a compromise, such as the one proposed by Senator Tydings, is necessary to begin the process of change by giving enthusiasts access to the new tool, and, by proxy, giving skeptics a chance to see that tool in action.

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