Now a telephone with a dial that lights up! (Mar, 1955)

Now a telephone with a dial that lights up!

Have you seen the new Bell telephone with a dial that lights up? It’s perfect for bedrooms, sickrooms … or any dimly lit place. Just pick up the handset and the dial is instantly illuminated.

Providing special telephone conveniences for your home and office is one part of our job at Western Electric. But an even bigger part is devoted to making equipment you are seldom aware of.. . that operates “behind-the-scenes” faithfully, economically.

As the manufacturing unit of the Bell System, our job is to make telephone equipment which works that way.

By teaming up with Bell Laboratories people who design the equipment and Bell telephone people who operate it, we help provide you with dependable telephone service at low cost.


  1. Mike says: August 18, 20108:40 am

    If only it didn’t take three people to operate.

  2. Kosher Ham says: August 18, 20109:56 am

    Not only that, they charge extra for the illuminated dial!

  3. Johann m says: August 18, 20103:00 pm

    It’s lighting when is ringing ??

  4. George says: August 18, 20103:44 pm

    It probably lit up when you picked up the hand-set, maybe being on very dim at other times so the phone could be found in the dark. Most likely it had a wall transformer, too, to power it.

    Being Western Electric and from the original phone monopoly, it was over-designed and could survive fire, flood, and earthquakes. The bulb probably lasted 20 years, and if it burned out, they came to your house and replaced it (probably having to remove 12 screws in the process). There was likely a monthly fee, too.

    I remember having to pay a one-time fee of $1.00 to have a colored phone.

  5. Firebrand38 says: August 18, 20105:00 pm

    Johann m: It depended on the version.


    The Model 500 P lit up when you lifted the receiver
    The Model 500 U had a “night light” switch to have the light glow dimly with the phone on the hook and brightly with the phone off the hook…

    These models replaced the 500H from 1954.…

    There was just a cap to remove to replace the GE46 light bulb.

    See, no need to guess.

  6. johann m says: August 19, 20103:34 am

    “Mushroom” is very nice sofisticated name for the machine. Amazing engineering ! :-))

  7. Richard says: August 19, 20109:52 am

    One observation: Even without a light, it’s pretty easy to dial one of these old style phones in complete darkness, anyway. It’s VERY easy to dial “O” for operator, since it’s easy to find that hole from the fingerguard. Besides, you don’t even need to find the “O” hole, you just turn the dial as far clockwise as it will go and then release it. In the days before 911, people might dial the operator for emergencies. But even arbitrary numbers can easily be dialed by feeling the dial and counting positions. With a pushbutton phone, you might accidentally push a button as you’re feeling your way around the keypad. But with a dial phone, the motion required to dial isn’t something you’re likely to accidentally do.

    I have one of these WE 500 phones at home (without a light). Picked it up at an estate sale for $2.00. I rarely call on it, but it has a very nice ringing sound, and it’s nice to have a phone that will work in a power failure.

  8. Kosher Ham says: August 19, 20109:58 am

    I have a 500 series phone as well and it says bell system property, not for sale. (I ended up buying it from the phone company back in the early eighties.)

  9. Casandro says: August 21, 20109:55 am

    @Richard: Most modern phones will work during a power failure, just set the “emergency phone” switch. The phone company will then power one of your phones, even in the event of a power failure. However you can only set one phone on your S0 bus that way.

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