The touch tone telephone is a communication device that makes use of a form of telephone switching — or the connecting of a call from one phone to another — that is known as dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF). DTMF replaced the earlier pulse style of switching that was common with the rotary dial phones commonly used through the 1970s. A simple telephone keypad replaced the rotary dial on the newer touch tone units that became the industry standard for both cell phones and land lines.
More Options Available
The development of touch tone services began in the middle of the 20th century, and these telephones were first introduced to a wide sector of the consumer market in the early 1970s. The basic process of the new tone dialing made it possible to switch calls with more efficiency. It also created the means of using specific tones to access a range of ancillary services that were not possible with the traditional pulse signal. A user can press a button on a phone's keypad to emit a tone that is heard by the computer system to which he or she is connected, thereby relaying information or triggering a certain response. For example, a customer can enter credit card or identification numbers by pressing buttons on a keypad, or he or she can choose from among various options by listening to a menu and pressing the button that corresponds with the desired option.
Replaced Rotary Phones
To take full advantage of these new capabilities, major telephone service providers around the world began to order the manufacture of touch tone phones that would accurately emit the right type of tones to activate those features. Deployed to the business community initially, the technology quickly spread to the private sector. By 1979, the touch tone phone was the telephone of choice for most users in many parts of the world.
With the deregulation of the telephone industry in the United States in 1984, the touch tone telephone became even more important. Companies that specialized in particular telephone communication services began to compete with the main telephone carriers for business. Making use of the dual tone technology helped many independent conference call companies capture a profitable share of the market for those types of services.
Better Customer Service
The presence of touch tone telephones in the home also made it possible for businesses to provide enhanced customer service. This telephone made it possible for banks to set up direct access to information about current balances, latest activity and pending deposits by making use of the dual tone functionality. As time went on, other companies found ways to implement automated technology that allowed callers to reach the right contact or obtain account information by simply pressing keys on their phone keypad.