Bell Telephone System - Just for fun

You don't call your out-of-townies enough. you should get in touch. Call them tonight. And, why aren't you calling them right now?

Donna Reed sure looks like she's having a ball, hearing a friend's voice and having the fun of sharing everyday news. "There's no need to hurry your call. the cost is small."

The next time you have to call an ambulance for your mom or dad because they heard what you pay monthly for your smartyphone bill, whip out this ad - best done on your smartyphone, just for the sake of irony. Then, enjoy their face while they have another grabber right there after seeing what they were paying for long distance in 1957... corrected for inflation, of course.

My mom used to love shaking her head at what they have the nerve to charge for a magazine "nowadays". The copy of LIFE that this was scanned from has a cover price of a quarter. Yeah, three bucks is more than a quarter, mom. What did you make per hour in 1957? Here. Let me get that for you. The average salary was about $3,600 per year. That's 2080 hours per year, which comes out to like $1.73 per hour. Roughly.

Assuming the CPI Inflation Calculator isn't completely off its nut, the price table from this Bell telephone ad would look like this, if you were paying these same rates in today's money:

So, your pocket computer wonderdevice, which probably costs you about $100 per month, allows you to talk to anybody in the country infinitely at no extra charge. While it is maddening that cellular carriers can be willing to try and charge you per text message, when the data burden on their network for a text message is almost unmeasurably small, in general, smart phones are pretty incredible. Also, ad no additional charge, you get a semi-functional robot voice that can look up nearly anything in the whole of the multiverse just by talking to it, and also a global co-pilot that can tell you how to get anywhere without asking for directions and possibly avoid getting involuntarily butt-sexed in the backwoods of Alabama because you spilled coffee on your hand drawn map.

I wonder: How many minutes of talk time would one hundred crisp, new,  modern dollars buy you back then? Well, $100 in current FutureBucks equals $11.79 in rusty old 1957 money. That would get you a little over three minutes of talk time from Miami to Pittsburgh with the Bell Telephone System.

CORRECTION! Thanks to Alert But Polite Reader Tim, it has been brought to our attention that I ran the math wrong. Derr! I'll let Tim explain...

"...when you say that is a little more than what 3 minutes on the phone with your steel magnate uncle before stepping out to the DuPont Plaza, you are using Futurebuck pricing with mid-50's money. You could talk to Uncle Walter for more than half an hour!"

Right you are, Tim! Thanks for keeping me honest, and for not being all snarky about it, which is more than one could typically say for me. Numbers are hard! Garr, my brain! Still, I'll leave the next paragraph as it was, because it's still a decent bit about the not-The-San-Diego-Chicken.

Wowzers. I don't know anybody in Pittburgh I want to talk to that badly... except maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates' mascot, the Pittsburgh Parrot. Could he explain to me in three minutes or less how his all-baby diet has been working for him? It may be worth $100 to hear him try. And, I could probably record the conversation on my smartyphone and post it on faceTube... OR, simply threaten to post the damning conversation and thereby extort $100 from the Pittsburgh Parrot, recouping my $100 loss for the phone call... and then I would then have a great story to tell people, gotten for free, effectively.

My mom would probably tell me that stories about talking to baby-eating mascots cost much less than free in her day.


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