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Object Timeline

1965

  • Work on this object began.

1975

  • Work on this object ended.

2015

2017

2018

Trimline Telephone, ca. 1970

This is a Telephone. It was made for (as the client) Bell Telephone Laboratories. It is dated ca. 1970 and we acquired it in 2015. Its medium is compression-molded abs plastic, metal, electronic components. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The Trimline telephone is one of the most recognizable and commonly used devices to be produced by Henry Dreyfuss Associates. Donald Genaro presided over its design production between 1962 and 1965. The phone was notable for its movement of the dial from the base to the handset, a legacy that is carried on today with the use of the modern cell phone. It was among the first phones to use the RJ11 modular plug and jack, a connecting device now found on numerous electrical products. The phone achieved such great popularity due to its compact design of a smooth plastic shell under which all of the mechanical parts are contained. In the design process, special attention was paid to achieve unobtrusive seaming of the plastic parts and ensure a streamlined shape. Ergonomics was an integral part of the production of all products developed in the Dreyfuss office. In the case of this phone, extensive measurements were made to achieve the correct handset shape to fit the distance on the average user between the ear and the mouth so that the phone was comfortable to use and allowed for perceptible speaking and hearing. A prototype underwent a field trial in American homes to ensure consumer satisfaction and success in real time use. This phone represents the model that was most widely used in American households and is still produced and used today.

It is credited Gift of Donald M. Genaro.

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 8.6 × 23 × 7.6 cm (3 3/8 in. × 9 1/16 in. × 3 in.)

Cite this object as

Trimline Telephone, ca. 1970; Client: Bell Telephone Laboratories (United States); compression-molded abs plastic, metal, electronic components; H x W x D: 8.6 × 23 × 7.6 cm (3 3/8 in. × 9 1/16 in. × 3 in.); Gift of Donald M. Genaro; 2015-43-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Bob Greenberg Selects.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/286494701/ |title=Trimline Telephone, ca. 1970 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=23 October 2018 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>