It's probably no revelation to anyone, but payphones have pretty much disappeared from the American landscape. Though once ubiquitous, they are now rarity. I assumed they were limited to isolated pockets at prisons and international terminals, but according to CNN there are still over 100,000 of them left in the US.

What prompted these thoughts? It was a visit to Shepherd University and seeing a working payphone in the performing arts building. I showed it to my 13-year-old son, Clay, who had never seen one before. I’m not even sure he understood the concept, having lived his entire life in the era of mobile phones. It was just an alien concept to him.

I was also reminded of the back-cover of 2600 Magazine which featured reader-submitted pictures of payphones from around the world. Related to that, “hacks” to get free phone calls from payphones. What is the value of that today? Who pays for long distance? Which is to say, we’ve come a long way. So far in fact, that we would likely scoff at the idea of paying to make a call.


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