Telephone "curly cords".

Can somebody please bestow me with some info regarding the development of the “curly cord” that is used on virtually all modern telephones? When was it first used, and why? Any info on this would be appreciated. Thanks.

Here’s a WAG:

So you can have a long cord in a short space.

That is to say, when it’s stretched out, it’s long. When it’s not being stretched out, it stays in a relatively neat little bundle, not dragged out all over the floor.

One minor correction, Sue: when it’s not being used, it does NOT stay in a “neat little bundle”, it gets all twisted and knotted so that it doesn’t stretch out when you want to use it.

No, curly cords are quite a bit less likely to tangle than straight ones. Trust me on this. I’ve had to work with various equipment with straight cords, and they sometimes tangle even while left alone in a locked room.

Curlies knot up most often when they’re used on phone handsets. Watch what you do when you talk on the phone: many people (it seems to be mostly women, for some reason) pick up the phone and change hands before hanging up. (Yes, the conversation is in there somewhere.) That puts one turn in the cord with every call. Odd but true.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

It was first used in a beauty parlor by a poorly sighted hairdresser. She also kept hanging up her customers after setting the phone cords.

Ray (This went on every spring. @@@@@@ )

If I pick up my phone at work with my right hand (the nearest to the phone, and put it to my left ear (to then have my right hand free for writing) it twists the phone in one loop. Returning it to the cradle after, it does not untwist.

Hence, every call makes it twist again. (like it did last summer)

But these days you can just unplug the handset and it untwists simply.

This site claims curly cords date to the early 1950s:

I don’t know all the relevant details, but I know the inventor was named Shaw, lived in Westhampton, Massachusetts, and died in 1942. (I used to date his daughter.)

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams