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Submitted by on Oct 10, 2021

telephone booth, telephone kiosk, telephone call box, telephone box, or public call box is a small building containing a payphone built for the convenience of the telephone user; typically, the user enters the booth and closes the booth door while using the payphone inside.

The building is known as a “telephone booth” (or “phone booth”) in the United States and Canada, while it is known as a “phone booth” in the Commonwealth of Nations (especially the United Kingdom and Australia) (or “phone box”).

Lighting, a door for seclusion, and windows to let others know whether the booth is in use are all common features of such a booth. A printed directory with local phone numbers may be provided, and a booth in a formal environment, such as a hotel, may be equipped with paper and pen as well as a seat. To survive the environment and extensive usage, an outdoor booth may be built of metal and plastic. Still, an inside booth (formerly known as a silent cabinet) may have more sophisticated construction and furnishings. The name and emblem of the telephone service provider are prominently displayed in most outdoor booths.

On January 12, 1881, in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, the world’s first telephone box, known as the “Fernsprechkiosk,” was inaugurated. To use it, one had to purchase Telefonbillets, which were paper tickets that allowed for a few minutes of talking time. It was replaced with a coin-operated telephone in 1899.

In the United States, William Gray is credited with inventing the coin payphone in 1889, while George A. Long is credited with developing it. In May 1903, the first telephone booth in London, England, was most likely set up outside the Staple Inn in High Holborn.

In the United Kingdom, a national network of telephone boxes was established in 1920, beginning with the concrete K1. However, the city of Kingston upon Hull is known for having its own phone service, Kingston Communications, with cream-colored phone boxes, as opposed to the traditional royal red in the rest of the country. Also, for natural and architectural beauty regions, The Post Office was obliged to approve a less obnoxious grey with red glazing bars plan. Ironically, several of the communities who have kept their telephone boxes have now painted them red.

In the United States, pay phones became less and less frequent in booths starting in the 1970s. Telephone booths have almost entirely been replaced with non-enclosed pay phones in several places where they were formerly prevalent. This replacement was prompted, at least in part, by a desire to make pay phones more accessible to handicapped persons in the United States.

In the United Kingdom, however, telephone booths were used more frequently than non-enclosed setups. The number of phone boxes in Britain has decreased dramatically since the late 1990s owing to the rise of mobile phones, despite being very widespread.

Many pay phone sites place the phones on kiosks rather than in booths, which discourages long calls in high-traffic places like airports.

A caller can utilize a computer, a portable fax machine, or a deaf telecommunications device with special equipment placed in select telephone booths.

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