Behold the Trommelwähler!


Originally published at:


All hail the Trommelwähler!


Pity you can’t get these - you can’t even get the old rotary phones. They should still work just fine, Ma Bell was really good about backward-compatability. And don’t tell me it interferes with your dial-up internet!


the issue with this sort of dial is the same with the rotary dial - if you happen to not press it down all the way, you will dial the wrong number.


I was surprised to find out that my old Western Electric 302 works fine with my FIOS box.


Muscle memory is a long lasting thing. I remember, feel, is better worded, dialing. The ‘tick,tick’ and hitting the stop with a rotary dial.


Oh, I want one now…


just the sound of a rotary dial makes the side of my index finger hurt.


I remember discovering that you can dial a phone by pulsing the hangup button ( That’s all this and the other rotary phones were doing )


Same! I started doing that for fun as a kid :slight_smile:


After 100+ years of development, I don’t remember dialing a rotary phone as anything other than idiot-proof.


I can speak directly to that - my grandmother routinely would let go of the rotary before it hit the stop, because she didn’t like smashing her fingers into the stop, and this lead to her misdialing often enough to complain to us about it. Now, sure, it’s possible she was the only one who did this, but I find that exceedingly unlikely :slight_smile:


This looks less awkward than a rotary phone (which I do remember, despite being younger than touch-tone dialing). I’d guess it’s somewhat more accessible. But esthetically – apart from the extra bulk – there’s something frustrating about repeatedly pushing it down just so it can pop back up. Even though it’s the same thing as the rotary phone, this design rubs your face in it.


Perhaps the dial on her phone was misaligned so that her finger hit the little metal claw before the dial hit its mechanical limit. That’d irritate anyone. (In fact, I wonder why phones even had the metal claw)


Dialing usually still works with pulse codes; but your odds of communicating with the world’s “Press something to hear this robot pretend to care in a slightly different but equally annoying way” systems are not improved by lacking DTMF.

Which is, admittedly, not always a bad thing. In fact, now that I mention it, I wonder if one could cut through the nonsense faster by playing back an audio reproduction of pulse codes, to suggest to the opposing system that you are using incompatible tech and will not be able to traverse the phone tree… Something to try.


Look for a cheap Chinese look alike with touch tone buttons showing up on Alibaba in 3,2,1…

Also look for someone hacking one into a functional cell phone sometime later this year.


That looks awesome - Makes perfect sense to anyone old enough to remember impulse telephones. I wonder if it is mechanically simpler than a rotary dial system? I don’t know what the internals of this are like but certainly a flat version with the numbers on a sliding element could be really simple.


Probably to stop you from breaking it?


Don’t quote me on this but I recall that the metal stop was grounded. Perhaps it was a way of ensuring static discharge to ground instead of to the system.


It’s easy to find old rotary phones in the UK, and because they’re bomb-proof, they almost always still work.The connector in the UK is different to that in Germany and other countries, but looks pretty similar to the US system.

And just because I like it: