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RE: [xml-dev] Topics of keen interest to me ... how about you?


>>> John Cowan Says

The problem with phones is the assignment of arbitrary digit strings rather than meaningful letter strings.  That was not significantly technology-bound.



"Better" is subjective, but tech wise I dont think it would have been feasable (or economical) to have created 36 position rotary

switches at exchanges (26 letters + numbers) with the technology at the time.  Nor do I think it would have made a better UI

to have a huge rotary or even pushbutton phone with so many letters.  So instead they *did* use letters and early  (even today)

phone "numbers" where often distributed as semi-meaningful letter strings  but without the hassle of having to have a full AZ keyboard.

Hassle for both humans and machines.  Numbers are indeed imperfect, but a good compromise for the time IMHO.  And back 'in the day'

you only had to know a few digits  ... anything more you just used the Voice UI (operator).


Plus the telco has an amazing predicate of backwards compatibility.   They literally insist on 50+ years of backwards compatibility.

I personally think the whole system, and how it evolved over time, is quite ingenious.   A UI that quite literally "my grandma could use"

without problems that spanned 100+ years of evolving technology.   I have phones that are 80 years old that still work unchanged on the network, and one that is 100 years old that required a minor upgrade (to get off of battery power and instead use exchange power).  And it works.  (But can answer only, not dial ... ha ha, it HAS no dial - yet it still works !)

That literally blows my mind.





David A. Lee






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