Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Bell Telephone Indoctrinates Teens at Seattle World's Fair

Illustration for article titled Bell Telephone Indoctrinates Teens at Seattle Worlds Fair

Two peppy, Aryan teenagers learn how tomorrow's communication technology will help us live happily ever after in "Century 21 Calling," a Bell Telephone promo film shot at the Seattle World's Fair in 1964. After disembarking the monorail, the kids run through the fairgrounds, gawking at foreigners and passing up the peepshow (add Elvis and essentially this is the plot of his 1963 movie, "It Happened At The World's Fair").


The United States Science Exhibit is chock-full of giant rotating molecules and trained pigeons. Finally, the kids jump line at the Bell Telephone pavilion and we learn about the Bell Boy, a brick-sized beeper for "doctors, salesmen, deliverymen" (you know, important people), as well as a slew of other phone services that are portrayed as making life easier for housewives: autodialing, call waiting, and conference calling—all of which came to pass, but not for another 15 or 20 years. Cell phone technology is curiously absent. Who wins the dialing race between brand-new push button and old-fashioned rotary model phones? Click over to the Prelinger Archives to find out!

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



Rotary phones have to be the most fun dead technology.

Both from an aural and tactile standpoint, they were so cool; even the design of the handset was pretty sweet. The clicks, the pull, the spin, the circular motion - eat your heart out iPod.

Maybe old speedometer and car radio dials come close in terms of actually feeling and seeing the mechanical operation as it occurred.

But the rotary phone....hard to beat.