Western Electric Model E1

25 Jan

In the early days of the telephone, due to limitations in microphone and speaker technology of the times, the transmitter and receiver had to be physically separated by some distance (among other restrictions).  The transmitters only worked reliably when on a vertical plane, so they were mounted in fixed positions, while the receivers were attached to free-moving pieces of wood — this was known as the “candlestick” style.  When the technology improved, Western Electric put the E1 handset into mass production.  It was packaged with various body models of telephone in the 1920’s and 30’s.  The handset is composed of five pieces fashioned from bakelite, one of the world’s first synthetic plastics.  Holding this piece, one can imagine how much of an ergonomic improvement this was.  Users could now prop their feet up and enjoy a drink while cradling the handset between their shoulders and head.  The design is truly formidable; it was created 100 years before the iPhone, and though much heavier, feels just as comfortable in the hand.  The E1 shown below is currently available recently sold on eBay for $15.

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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in eBay, telephony, Western Electric


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