Telephone booth

Telephone booth

A telephone booth, telephone kiosk, (or telephone box in the British Isles) is a small structure furnished with a payphone and designed for a telephone user's convenience. Such a booth usually has a door to provide privacy and a window to let others know if the booth is in use. The booth may be furnished with a printed directory of local telephone numbers, and a booth in a formal setting such as a hotel may be furnished with paper and pen and even a seat. An outdoor booth may be made of metal and plastic to withstand the elements and heavy use, while an indoor booth (once known as a silence cabinet) may have more elaborate architecture and furnishings.Cite web|url=|title=Public Telephones|accessyear=2007|accessmonthday=December 4|publisher=Melchior Telematics|year=2007|author=Melchior Telematics|language=Finnish] Most outdoor booths feature the name and logo of the telephone service provider.

19th century long distance telephony suffered from high losses, so "silence cabinets" were built to allow hearing faint voices from distant places and shouting across a country without disturbing neighbors. Most were on telephone company premises, and luxuriously appointed, until the turn of the century when they began to appear in railway stations, hotels and other places where well-heeled customers were expected. [] . They became commonplace, though less luxurious, in industrialized countries in the 1910s.

Starting in the 1970s pay telephones were less and less commonly placed in booths in the United States. In many areas where they were once common, telephone booths have now been almost completely replaced by non-enclosed pay phones. In the United States, this replacement was caused, at least in part, by an attempt to make the pay telephones more accessible to the handicapped. However, in the United Kingdom phones remained in booths more often than the non-enclosed set up. Although still fairly common, the number of phone boxes have declined sharply in Britain since the late 1990s due to the boom of mobile phones.

Many locations that provide pay phones mount the phones on kiosks rather than in booths — this relative lack of privacy and comfort discourages lengthy calls in high-demand areas such as airports.

Special equipment installed in some telephone booths allows a caller to use a computer, a portable fax machine, or a telecommunications device for the deaf.

Paying for the call

The user of the booth pays for the call by depositing coins into a slot on the telephone, by entering a payment code on the telephone's keypad, or by using a telephone card. Coin-operated phones usually take the money before the call is made, and return it if there is no answer on the receiving end. Other phones, such as those used in the UK until the early 1980s, take the money after someone has answered at the other end by blocking the call until money has been deposited. Some pay phones are equipped with a card reader that allows a caller to make payment with a credit card. A caller who possesses no means of payment may have the phone company's operator ask the call recipient if the recipient is willing to make payment for the call; this is known as "reversing the charges" "reverse charged call" or "calling collect". It is also possible to place a call to a phone booth if the intended recipient is known to be waiting at the booth, however not all phone booths allow incoming calls. Long before "computer hacking" was a common phenomenon, creative mischief-makers devised tactics for obtaining free phone usage through a variety of techniques, including several for defeating the electro-mechanical payment mechanisms of telephone booths--early methods of phone phreaking.

Recent developments

The increasing use of mobile phones has led to a decreased demand for pay telephones, but the increasing use of portable computers is leading to a new kind of service. In 2003, service provider Verizon announced that they would begin offering wireless computer connectivity in the vicinity of their phone booths in Manhattan. As of 2006 the Verizon wifi telephone booth service was discontinued in favor of the more expensive Verizon Wireless's EVDO system.Cite web|url=|title=Goodbye Free Verizon WiFi|accessyear=2007|accessmonthday=December 4|publisher=Gothamist LLC.|year=2005|author=Jen Chung|language=Finnish] This allows a computer user to connect with remote computer services by means of a short-range radio stationed within the booth. The caller pays for usage by means of a pre-arranged account code stored inside the caller's computer. Wireless access is motivating telephone companies to place wireless stations at locations that have traditionally hosted telephone booths, but stations are also appearing in new kinds of locations such as libraries, cafés, and trains.

A rise in vandalism in certain regions has prompted several companies to manufacture simpler booths with extremely strong pay phones.

Most telephone booths in Northern Ireland are able to accept two currencies. They are able to accept both pound sterling and euro, due to the proximity to the Republic of Ireland. Similarly, mainly in large cities in Great Britain, certain telephone booths accept both sterling and euro. Other services provided by these booths are internet access, SMS text messaging and ordinary phone services.

In 2004, Jordan became the first country in the world not to have telephone booths generally available. The cellular phone penetration in that country is so high that telephone booths haven't practically been used at all for years. The two private payphone service companies, namely ALO and JPP, closed down and currently there's no payphone service to speak of.Cite web|url=| suffer from cellphone growth 2004] In 2007, Finnet companies, and TeliaSonera Finland discontinued their public telephones earlier and the last remaining operator Elisa Oyj did that during the beginning of the year.Cite web|url=|title=Elisa luopuu yleisöpuhelinliiketoiminnasta syksyllä 2007|accessyear=2007|accessmonthday=December 4|publisher=Elisa Oyj|year=2006|author=Elisa Oyj|language=Finnish]

Following the commencement of the Smoking ban in England, it became illegal to smoke in most telephone boxes. The smoking ban requires owners to display no smoking signage, which has resulted in BT displaying a no smoking sticker which refer to the telephone box as "premises."

The telephone booth in culture

Phonebooth stuffing, in which dozens of college students crammed their bodies into a standard booth, was a notable fad on campuses in several countries in 1959. [cite book | last =Marum | first =Andrew | coauthor= Parise, Frank|title = "Telephone booth stuffing (1959)." ("Follies and Foibles section")| publisher =Facts on File, Inc. | date = 1984| location =New York | pages =pages 108-109 | isbn =0-87196-820-7 ]

The concept of the telephone booth is a useful metaphor in storytelling. In Stanley Kubrick's 1968 movie "", a scientist journeying to the moon uses a pay phone to communicate with his daughter on Earth, contrasting the futuristic context of space travel and live two-way video communication with the prosaic activity of keeping in touch with loved ones and having to pay for the call.

In Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film "The Birds", actress Tippi Hedren is trapped in a phone booth as birds try to attack her and cause havoc in the town around her.

In the British science fiction television series "Doctor Who", the title character's vehicle for traversing space and time (called a TARDIS) was designed to take the shape of any desired object, but the circuitry for achieving this effect malfunctioned while the vehicle had the shape of a classic British police call box, a specialized phone booth dedicated for contact with the police offices.

In the 1960s TV series "Get Smart", the CONTROL headquarters was located in the basement of a building, accessible via a telephone booth. This method of access was seen in the opening credits of most episodes.

In the film "Dirty Harry", there is a part within the movie where Inspector Harry Callahan had to play a cat and mouse game when a serial killer required him to race from phonebooth to phonebooth all over San Francisco in order to prevent a young girl from being killed. This was imitated in the film, "".

Superman and his anthropomorphic parody Underdog have often been depicted as changing from their secret identities into their superhero counterparts in telephone booths, taking advantage of the degree of concealment that the more enclosed early models would provide. In the 1978 film "Superman", Christopher Reeve's Superman comically discovered during an emergency that the local pay phones were the open-kiosk style which was then becoming more commonplace.

The 1972 short film La Cabina directed by Antonio Mercero features a man trapped inside a telephone booth. The initially light-hearted Spanish made film (which features no dialogue) has a chilling conclusion.

The British red telephone box played a notable part in the Bill Forsyth 1983 movie Local Hero. Set in Scotland, it was the only phone available to Peter Riegert's character to contact his boss (played by Burt Lancaster) back in Houston, Texas.

The 1989 film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure featured the title characters traveling through time and space in a telephone booth, collecting seven historical figures. These historical figures travelled back to California with them in the telephone booth, despite their inability to all comfortably fit inside the booth — a reference to the late 1950s practice of "telephone booth stuffing".

In the "Harry Potter series" the visitors' entrance to the Ministry of Magic is located in a red telephone booth. [Rowling, J.K. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". Scholastic, 2003.]

The 1985 Movie "Jumpin Jack Flash" features Whoopi Goldberg being dragged by a tow truck through uptown Manhattan while in a phone booth.

French conceptual artist Sophie Calle was challenged by writer Paul Auster to create and maintain a public amenity in New York. The artist's response was to augment a telephone booth on the corner of Greenwich and Harrison streets in Manhattan with a note pad, a bottle of water, a pack of cigarettes, flowers, cash, and sundry other items. Every day, Calle cleaned the booth and restocked the items, until the telephone company removed and discarded them. This project is documented in "The Gotham Handbook" (1998). [cite book | last = Auster | first = Paul | title = Doubles-Jeux | publisher = Actes sud | location = Arles | year = 1998 | isbn = 9782742718702]

The 2003 film "Phone Booth" starring Colin Farrel, focused on a man "trapped" in a New York City phone booth by a man on the other end of the line who threatens to shoot him if he attempts to leave it.

"Pick Up the Phone Booth and Die" (1996) is a minimalist piece of interactive fiction in which, as the title suggests, the player character dies if they attempt to pick up the phone booth.

Throughout "The Matrix" film trilogy, the protagonists are capable of exiting the matrix, itself, via the answering of a phone booth telephone.

In an episode of the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, the twins travel into an alternate reality/timeline in a machine built in the shape of a phone booth. ["The Suite Smell of Excess." "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody." Disney Channel. 2006-06-02. No. 41, season 2.]

A series of commercials for Orange SA regularly show in cinemas, encouraging viewers to switch off their mobile phone. One involves a movie being shot about a murderer using a telephone box to communicate with his victims. The ad is called "The Phone Box Killer".

ee also

*Giles Gilbert Scott
*Hanging on the Telephone
*Mojave phone booth
*Red telephone box
*Interactive kiosk


External links

*imdb title | id=0065513|title=La Cabina
* [ "The Phone Box Killer" ad]
* [ Article in Spaces Magazine by Lee Garland, May 08]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • telephone booth — telephone .booth n AmE a small structure that is partly or completely enclosed, containing a public telephone = ↑phone booth …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • telephone booth — ☆ telephone booth n. a booth in a public place containing a telephone, usually operated by inserting coins …   English World dictionary

  • telephone booth — telephone booths N COUNT A telephone booth is a place in a public building or in the street where there is a telephone that can be used by the public. [FORMAL] …   English dictionary

  • telephone booth — telephone ,booth noun count a PHONE BOOTH …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • telephone booth — noun booth for using a telephone (Freq. 2) • Syn: ↑phone booth, ↑call box, ↑telephone box, ↑telephone kiosk • Hypernyms: ↑booth, ↑cubicle, ↑stall, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • telephone booth — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms telephone booth : singular telephone booth plural telephone booths mainly American a telephone box …   English dictionary

  • telephone booth — noun a small enclosure housing a public telephone Syn: phone booth, telephone box, telephone kiosk …   Wiktionary

  • telephone booth — tel′ephone booth n. tgp an enclosed booth for a public telephone …   From formal English to slang

  • telephone booth — a more or less soundproof booth containing a public telephone. Also called, esp. Brit., telephone box. [1895 1900, Amer.] * * * …   Universalium

  • telephone booth — Synonyms and related words: call box, coin telephone, desk telephone, dial telephone, extension, mouthpiece, pay station, phone, public telephone, push button telephone, receiver, telephone, telephone engineering, telephone extension, telephone… …   Moby Thesaurus

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