Mystery of the time-traveling, 1928 cell phone solved

Senior Editor
10.29.10 17 Comments

ear-trumpet 1928 charlie chaplin cell phone mystery solved

In a shocking twist, the vagrant-looking guy from the 1928 Charlie Chaplin footage may not have actually been a time-traveler talking on a cell phone.  Live Science says the guy was probably just holding an old-timey hearing aide.

What [Insanely long-winded] Irish filmmaker George Clarke didn’t consider was that a simple ear trumpet could still explain it all, said hearing device historians.
“As you can tell from these pictures, old-fashioned mechanical or resonating hearing aids were not necessarily long and rounded,” said Philip Skroska, an archivist at the Bernard Becker Medical Library of Washington University in St. Louis.
“Short, compact rectangular forms were not unusual.” In other words, they could look something like a cell phone to imaginative YouTube viewers in the 21st century. [LiveScience]

Ear trumpets, well of course.  Everyone had an ear trumpet back then.  We used to use them so we could talk to each other while we were flagpole sitting, which was all the rage at the time.  “Hey Jebediah, ain’t this flagpole sittin’ just the bee’s knees? Why I’m so happy I could do the Charleston,” we used to shout to each other, bee’s knees being a form of currency at the time.  “Give ya six knees for a half shilling,” we used to say.


"Eh? Speak into the butthorn, butthorn."

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