It was 60’s and everything was changing. Politics, Race, Wad, Music – all very important. But the 60’s also saw an end to rotary telephones. Buttons were here to stay, but for a long time many people worked on an important question: how do we arrange those buttons? You won’t believe what the came up with.
The Bell labs were tasked with this giant question, and before settling on the 3×3 pad, tests were run on hundreds of other combinations. The Bell labs tool everything into account: fastest dial time, accuracy, even the layout that looked the best was considered.
The layout we all have to come to know and love wasn’t that much of a front-runner, with there being very little difference between designs. In the end, our lovable button style was picked largely based on technical reasons.
Check out more of the (surprisingly) fascinating history of how the buttons came to be, check out the report here. Next time you reach for that phone, remember, a lot of hard work went into that design. Now dial away.