The model 500 was the Bell System's mainstay telephone from the 1950s through the 1980s. When it was designed in 1949 by Henry Dreyfuss, whose firm also conceived the WE 302, rotary-dial technology was state of the art. But the phone was in the marketplace for so long that it evolved its internal electronics, if not its external appearance, to incorporate 10 touch-tone keys beginning in 1964 (“star” and “pound” keys would come later).

One of the most important dates in the history of the model 500 is 1951, which was the year Western Electric, a subsidiary of AT&T and the sole supplier of household telephones to the monopoly, was forced to license the design of the 500 to other manufacturers. Two companies that manufactured model 500 telephones under license from Western Electric were Kellogg, which by then was owned by ITT, and Stromberg-Carlson, which found it more profitable to reproduce 500s than to build and market its own designs.

In the beginning, much like the Model T, the 500 came in any color you wanted, as long as it was black. But by 1953, Western Electric was offering 500s in three shades of ivory, five shades of green, and four shades of red. A collection of blue phones were introduced the following year, and by 1957, WE was even distributing phones in hues of pink, a precursor, perhaps, to its introduction of the Princess phone in 1959.

Some of the more interesting models in the 500 series include the 500C, which lacked a dial; the 500P, which had a hooded dial lamp that lit up when the handset was removed from its cradle; and the 502, which had a white “exclusion plunger” that could be lifted when users on party lines wanted a little privacy. Models labeled 554 were essentially 500 desk sets mounted to a wall, and in 1958, Western Electric offered separate speaker and microphone units for hands-free calling.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Telephones as Entertainment

Old Telephones as Entertainment

For those who want highly detailed information on specific Western Electric antique and vintage telephone models su… [read review or visit site]

The Telephone Archive

The Telephone Archive

If you're into old phones, check out this 600-page repository of images and historical information. Includes an ext… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Mediterranean Blue Kellogg 500 Telephone Western Electric Rotary Dial Telephone Model 500 Aqua Blue Dated 6/59Western Electric 500 Dark Blue Rotary Dial Telephone 1957 Rare!!Western Electric 500 Gold Telephone Factory Reconditiond With The Box Yellow Bell System Western Electric Rotary Dial Telephone D 500 W/buttonWestern Electric Soft Plastic Dark Or Rose Beige 500 Phone W/ Neutral Gray CordVintage 1950's Western Electric Bell System Pink Rotary Telephone, C/d 500 Nr!!Art Deco Bell System Kellogg Red Bar Bakelite Desk Phone K500 + Original BoxNew Vintage Rotary Dial Phone Bell Western Electric Telephone Black 500 Dm -03Rare Vintage 1963 Western Electric Mint Green Rotary Desk Telephone 500 RetroVintage 1984 Black Rotary Stromberg 500 Dm Desk Telephone Vintage Western Electric Bell Systems 500 Rotary Telephone Baby Blue/aquaWorking Condition Cherry Red Dm500 Western Electric Rotary Telephone - BeautifulVintage Western Electric 500 Telephone Antique Rotary Phone Bell SystemVintage 1960's Western Electric Bell Light Green Rotary Telephone, C/d 500 Nr!!1966 Western Electric 500 Rotary Phone Yellow * Cleaned And Restored1983 Itt Pc500 White Rotary Dial Desk Telephone & Instructions - Mint In Box !Working Vintage 1980's Itt Retro Desktop 500 Brown Rotary Dial Telephone WorksVintage 1961 Black Western Electric Bell System 500 Rotary Desk Phone-working!Vintage Western Electric Bell System 500 Dm Black Rotary Dial Telephone -works Vintage At&t Rotary Dial Desk Phone 500 D/m Beige In Color 1960-70's Era - WorksVintage 1960's Western Electric Rotary Dial Phone 500 Dm By Bell - Complete Base