Telecommunications and Pop Culture: TV’s Memorable Phones
There is no disputing that the evolution of telecommunications has played out on TV programs. From prehistoric phones to space-age video chat, we’ve seen it all on our favorite shows through the years.
To capture this link between pop culture and telecommunications, we bring to you 10 memorable phones in TV history. If you have others, make sure to share them with us on RingCentral’s Facebook page.
Fred and Wilma had all the modern-day conveniences in Bedrock, including phones. Their Stone Age wall-mounted model even featured a ram horn for chatting with their neighbors Barney and Wilma.
Farm living was the life for Oliver and Lisa Douglas, a sophisticated couple who had moved from New York City to a country farm. Played by Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, the two struggled frequently with the lack of adequate telecommunications on Green Acres – including having to climb a telephone pole to make calls.
This hard-hitting detective talked with members of his police force via a wristwatch-like communications device that many consider to be the inspiration for today’s cell phones. Tracy’s two-way wrist radio was upgraded to a two-way wrist TV in 1964.
In one of the earliest episodes of the Brady Bunch, Michael Brady, played by Robert Reed, gets frustrated that the phone is always in use by the other eight members of the house. He makes an executive decision to install a pay phone in the family room. Of course the idea doesn’t quite work out as planned, and he has to struggle to find enough change to make an important business call.
The Bat Phone enabled Commissioner Gordon to securely contact Batman when an urgent situation required his attention. Many a crisis caused by the Riddler and the Penguin were diverted thanks to this very special red phone.
Focused on the clumsy, bungling efforts of secret agent Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams, Get Smart featured a variety of counter-intelligence devices including the secret communication shoe phone.
After graduating from the Los Angeles Police Academy, the “Angels” – played by Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith – were hired to work for the Charles Townsend Agency as private investigators. Their boss, “Charlie” (voiced by John Forsythe), is never seen, but assigns cases via a “technologically advanced” speaker phone.
Saved by the Bell
Following the exploits of a group of high school students and their principal, Saved by the Bell showcased the fashion and the technology of the late 1980s. The brick cell phone was a common prop in many of the episodes.
Communication devices were quite advanced in the fictional universe of Star Trek. The “Communicator” enables crew members to contact starships in orbit without relying on a satellite to relay the signal.
In response to the popularity of the Flintstones, producers Hanna-Barbera decided to create another animated series. Originally airing in 1962, the Jetsons featured American culture in a futuristic utopia in the year 2062. Housekeeping was simple, thanks to a robot maid and many time-saving push-button devices. Telecommunications were also space-age, with video conferencing on large TV-like screens.
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