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TTY Becomes Electronic (1971 – 1983)

(1971) ESSCO Communications introduce Scanatype, the first digital TTY. New York/New Jersey Phone-TTY introduces the first accessible Dial-A-News service. Intel begins production of large scale integrated circuit chips. 1,500 TTYs in use.

(1972) Microminiaturization of electronic circuits lead to lighter and quieter devices manufactured by HAL Communications Corp. and MAGSAT. Andrea Saks, daughter of Andrew Saks brings the Phonetype modem to London, England. 2,500 TTYs in use.

(1973) More electronic TTYs come on the market. New York Telephone and New Jersey Bell follow Indiana Bell in waiving unlisted number charges for TTY users. David Saks founded the Organization for Use of the Telephone (OUT), dedicated to making telephones compatible with hearing aids and installing inductive loop amplification in public meeting places. The first TTY call from Hawaii to the mainland costs $15 for 50 lines of text! Bell System predicts about three million PicturePhone units would be operating in homes and offices by the mid-1980’s and sets up PicturePhone booths in train stations and public places. The concept was abandoned after users expressed concerns about high costs and privacy issues. A similar videophone prototype was tested at NTID and found to be uneconomical because the bandwidth required was equivalent to 300 regular telephone calls! The TTY network continues to grow with more than 3,000 listings.

(1974) I. Lee Brody develops and distributes the first Braille TTY on the market in the United States.

(1975) The first authorized transatlantic TTY call was placed between England and the United States. Later, a three-way TTY call took place between Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Sweden during the World Federation of the Deaf Congress. The TTY network reaches the 10,000 benchmark.

(1976) New inductive-type TTY phone signaler lights introduced to the market. The number of TTYs in use doubles to 20,000.

(1977) AT&T agrees to review telecommunication needs of handicapped and open centers for their telecommunication needs. The Bell Telephone Company becomes 100 years old. SRI International is awarded 3-year $375,000 grant to develop ultra-portable TTY that produced a prototype, but was not economical for mass production. 35,000 TTYs in use.

(1978) Pacific Bell sets up two statewide centers in California to provide technical assistance to people with disabilities on telecommunications equipment. I. Lee Brody selected as honorary member of Telephone Pioneers of America.

(1979) Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) becomes widely accepted as the appellation for all TTY-like devices.

(1980) AT&T begins toll free TTY operator service. TDI conducts electronic messaging (e-mail) experiments with DEAF-NET in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and with HERMES in Boston.

(1981) AT&T reduces long distance rates for TTY users. Electronic Industries Association (EIA) invites TTY manufacturers to develop standards so TTYs can work with each other without disrupting the telephone network.

(1982) Krown Research develops ASCII/Baudot TTY. APCOM goes out of business. Canada begins Operator Assistance Service Center. Digital hearing aids become available. 180,000 TTYs in use.

(1983) Robert Weitbrecht passes away from injuries sustained after being hit by an automobile. Phone-TTY develops CM-4 TTY modem and TTY software for personal computers. AT&T establishes the nationwide Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf Special Needs Center in New Jersey to meet the special long-distance telecommunication needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing customers as well as people with speech-related disabilities.