Udayavni Special

The age of the ‘coin booth’


Team Udayavani, Jul 20, 2020, 6:34 PM IST

The late 1980s and 90s saw the rise of the landline leading to the downfall of the telephones booths also called STD booths as mostly STD calls were made through it.

The phone booths had developed an entire sub-culture around it. Waiting in queues outside it or reserving numbers for making and waiting calls. Landlines brought obliteration to all of these.

However, extensive use of landlines brought about another technological and cultural novelty with it – the coin booths.

Coin booths were essentially not booths, they were telephone machines operated through coins, similar to those in earlier phone booths, but machines that could be installed anywhere.

The machines were more ubiquitous than booths – they were present in saree shops, restaurants, shopping complexes etc.

One had to extend their existing landline connections to these ‘coin boxes’ and count the coins collected in them at the end of the day.

Later, when mobile phones revolutionised telephony, these machines too were adapted to mobile technology. Machines were built with small antennas and SIM slots in them making even a landline connection unnecessary.

These machines made into the 21st century as many in the first decade of the mobile telephony revolution could not afford the mobile handsets as well as the expenses of call tariff costs.

Coin phone machines can still be seen in some places. But amid today’s unlimited calls, they have lost their importance.

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