What Ever Happened to the House Intercom?
The house intercom was prominent in the 1960s and ’70s.
It’s 2018, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a landline. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who prefers a phone call at all, what with far less intrusive texting as an option. We’ve come a long way in how we communicate, but it’s nice to reflect on the old times before smart phones existed. Remember the house intercom?
The house intercom was prominent in the 1960s and ’70s, primarily in large homes. These in-home intercom systems allowed you to speak to people in other rooms simply by pushing a button. NuTone paved the way for the popularity of the intercom system, introducing its first model in 1954. That model was built with vacuum tubes.
The intercom essentially served as a house phone without having to dial, wait for someone to answer, or leave a message. You could simply press a button and call out to a family member in another part of the house, informing them that dinner was ready, the trash needed to be taken out, the in-laws had arrived, etc.
Real estate ads began listing intercoms as a house feature in the 1960s, as well as other luxuries like a pool and shag carpeting. NuTone’s 1963 intercom was a popular hard-wired system offering multi-station functions and an AM/FM radio.
But while the intercom was a sign of luxury, the design lost its glamour quickly thanks to advances in technology, and soon landlines offered an intercom feature. This too, however, became obsolete thanks to today’s desire for mobility that reached outside of the confinements of the home and into our pockets in the form of cell phones.
Photo: Courtesy of Andy king50