back to article Chap builds rotary dial mobile phone

If you miss the whirr-and-thunk of a rotary dial, you could download an app that imitates the rotary dialler, or you could make your own mobile with a rotary dial. For those that prefer something a little more physical, this Hackaday project should keep you busy with the soldering iron: a real rotary dialler (with appropriate …


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  1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Simply wonderful

    I can't help but wonder how many teeny boppers would know how to dial this phone. Oddly I was recently looking over the LPC800 spec sheet for a small project of my own but this just has that odd juxtaposition of nostalgia, simplicity and high tech.

    1. southpacificpom

      Re: Simply wonderful

      Yes it is wonderful but I guess someone is now creating an Android app that mimics a rotary dialler.

      Must get my Raspberry Pi out again...

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: Simply wonderful

        There are dozens already.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Where the video?

    Nothing on my page.

    1. vagabondo

      Re: Where the video?

      At the top of the article there is a link:

      Click to view video

  3. Martin Budden Bronze badge

    Product has been retired, but I want one (and probably someone else is selling them somewhere):

  4. xperroni

    I'm more impressed...

    ...that he could find a rotary dial at all.

    Are those things still produced? What for?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. vagabondo

      Re: I'm more impressed...

      Without a "telephone dial" how do you expect the data-entry operators to get their work done?

  5. Fihart


    Try repeatedly dialling today's longer numbers on a rotary phone and you'll soon see the point of press-buttons and last number redial.

    I recall this vividly from the 1980s, trying to get through to a government department which almost always had line-busy signal.

  6. Marco Fontani

    Oh $deity, this brings back memories of writing an AT command parser… argh

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      For reasons you don't want to know, I once wrote an AT command parser in the script language for the procomm plus terminal emulator.

      Just 'cos Turing said it was possible, didn't mean he said it would be easy.

  7. Winkypop Silver badge


    Once saw a child 'use' an old phone by simply pressing on the numbers painted within the dial.

    Nothing happened of course.

    They had no idea that you had to rotate the dial.

    Ahhh, I remember pulse dialing very well.

  8. DropBear Silver badge

    ...Of course, if we go even 'older-school', we could make a mobile phone with no dial at all, only a hand crank to alert the operator to accept a verbal switching request. Actually, that might be even simpler to make - just hook it up the whatever button activates Siri / Cortana / Google Now.

  9. JLH

    Dialling 999

    Anyone remember the instructions on how to dial 999 in the dark?

    Put index and middle finger into the last two holes on the dial.

    Remove middle finger and then that is in the '9' hole.

    Have I got that right?

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: Dialling 999

      Yup, and the third finger nestled on the other side of the... of the ..... that silver crescent moon-shaped bracket which stopped your finger going too far when dialling. Must be a technical name for the bloody thing

      1. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

        Re: Dialling 999

        I believe the technical term is ha'moonmetallicodigihalter.

      2. Flip

        Re: Dialling 999

        According to this document, it is called a "Finger Stop". ITT Repair Manual

      3. David 45

        Re: Dialling 999

        Er, speaking as an ex-BT engineer........try "Finger-stop" !!!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Dialling 999

          "Finger Stop"

          I suspect "Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day" is of German extraction.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't beleive it.

    I remember seeing my Granddad in the hallway dialling out on the phone, he was visibly fearful of dialling a wrong number (think of the shame and embarrassment). I remember rotary dials and being given some coppers for the telephone box by the parade of shops so we could practice calling home from a red telephone box. The heavy phone books held on fold up arms, (or was that later..) a slight smell of pee (not mine) the heft of the handset, pressing buttons on connection, the bell hit by the coins still exist in that strange memory.

    Who else remembers a time when having access to a phone box was considered a good and important thing, how the layout was before it was all locked down due to the vandalism?

    Why the hell is our current life and public space so locked down and limited by the few idiots that want to wreck stuff? Oh that's it I'm off to buy some beige slacks.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the dial-up era of the internet...

    ... the first ISP server in the country had a number quite like 0900-#000#000# That's ten digits after the 0900, most of them zeroes. The only other services that used that 0900 service back then were phone-sex, charging a few $currency PER MINUTE. The ISP was no different, it would charge the same amount, and you would feel screwed, likewise. Oh the irony that today we have free porn on the webs.

    We were ecstatic when the bloody modem started dialing...dialing...dialing...busy. Hang-up. start over. dial...dial...dial... on a bloody pulse line. And you could see the AT commands on the modem interface, while negotiating host with the server. The login was straight in there, in the AT interface too, no dial-up authentication in Windows 3.x yet invented. God forbid if you miss-typed login or password, since the backspace on your keyboard meant something entirely different on the terminal.

    I wonder if anybody had to dial that by hand, on a standard rotating dial, like the one in article.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can dial on a tone line...

    without the bloody rotating dialer. Just hit the hangup hook as fast and in the same time spacing as the rotating dialer does. A mechanical switch that acts fast enough can emulate that too.

    Those locked-down phones with actual locks never prevented dialing once I found that out. Like the one below:

    1. AceRimmer

      Re: You can dial on a tone line...

      You can "Tone Dial" by simply playing the tones through the mouth piece. There used to be available devices which would do that for you giving the phone "automatic" dialing capability

      You're probably thinking of pulse dialing

      1. JLH

        Re: You can dial on a tone line...

        Tone dialling usign a whistle?

        As in Capn' Crunch

  13. John Savard Silver badge

    Obvious Application

    This is the missing technological piece required to make the shoe phone a reality!

  14. Epobirs

    But does it come in a shoe?

    Maxwell Smart had one of these on his right foot back in the 1960s.

    In 1991, I was working as a messenger. Whenever I made a dropoff I needed to call in to the dispatcher in hopes there would be another job nearby. This one job took me to the HQ of the Los Angeles Unified School District, near downtown LA. The place felt very anachronistic. All of the furniture was ancient and each desk had a rotary phone. When I went to call in to the dispatcher I found I couldn't immediately remember how to use the kind of phone I'd grown up with. I had to stare at it for about 30 seconds before it finally came to me.

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