Not to be confused with the now awesomely popular iPhone (blatant plug – don’t forget to download our free FaceMaker iPhone app!) the British Telecom InPhone wasn’t so much a particular handset, or even a range of handsets, it was actually primarily a wall socket!
It may seem hard to get excited about a wall socket (hence the over the top advertising campaign – see below) but it was a very forward thinking idea. Prior to this a telephone was connected directly to the wall, meaning it couldn’t be moved around the house (indeed you probably only had a single telephone in the house), and if the phone itself broke for any reason (probably unlikely, but possible) you’d need an engineer to come out and wire up a new telephone for you.
So along came the InPhone system, and suddenly not only could we have multiple spots around the house where we could plug in a phone, we could more affordably have a telephone in every room of the house (if we so wished of course) and change our handsets too.
In the years to follow it also meant that getting your computer online became a simple matter of connecting your modem to the wall socket. Imagine if we had still had to use one of those ridiculous acoustic coupler modems like Matthew Broderick used in WarGames.
Another concept that the InPhone system brought along was the idea of actually buying your own telephone. Previously most people rented the telephone itself off British Telecom as well as paying line rental and call charges. British Telecom were responsible for making many of these phones themselves, including the one in the image accompanying this post. Laughably, this was called the “Slimphone” because of its size. Nowadays it would probably be called a brick.
To let everyone know all about this brilliant new concept in telephony, British Telecom had a series of TV adverts which all shared a very infectious piece of music. If you were around in the Eighties and have forgotten it, I’m sure it will come flooding back when you watch the clip below…