2600, the Hacker Quarterly, has declared this year, 2008, to be the payphone’s last year. The payphone is dead, long live the payphone.
The cover of the publication’s Spring issue has what looks to be a shrine dedicated to the memory of payphone; a picture of Alexander Graham Bell adorns the top of the shrine. 1889-2008. Never forget.
But is the payphone dead, really? AT&T sold all of its remaining payphones late last year, and here in New York, Verizon payphones are a rare sight. You’ll occasionally spot one on the street and say to yourself, “Oh, yeah, I remember those.” That they’re filled with half-empty beer bottles and, shall we say, human-generated prizes, is an unfortunate circumstance.
You’ll still find payphones in the subways here, which makes sense—with no (or limited) cellphone reception underground, you’d want a reliable way to contact people outside of the subway system in the even of an emergency. We’ll see how long those payphones last if and when cellphone service is introduced to the underground.