The rotary dial phone has been consigned to the dustbin of history, now a technological dinosaur, but that didn't stop animator, artist and designer Joaquin Baldwin from bringing it back for a bit of ironic, 3D printed fun.
Baldwin has created a slick iPhone case with a working rotary dial built in. While you can't actually use it to dial numbers (which is too bad), it does have a coil spring which was built in one printer pass along with the entire piece.
If you're not familiar with the concept, and it has been gone for a long time, a typical example of an old rotary dial sees the digits arranged in a circular layout to allow a finger wheel to be rotated from a position corresponding to each digit. When you released the dial at the finger stop, the wheel spins back to its original position via spring action. This motion once served to interrupt the direct electrical current of the telephone line and generated electrical pulses which a telephone exchange decoded for each number dialed.
Almon Brown Strowger patented the first of such devices in 1892. It entered service through the Bell System in 1919 and it served as the preferred method of placing a call until the Touch-Tone system replaced it in the mid-1960s, a system which used a keypad and an array of push-buttons for dialing.
Baldwin was born in Paraguay, the son of an environmental activist and an artist, and he began experimenting at the age of 15 with computer graphics and basic 3D animation. In 2002 at the age of 19, Baldwin moved to the U.S. to begin his studies at the Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio. In 2009, his animated short, Voodoo Sebastian, won the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Competition, and that was followed by a move to get a masters in animation at UCLA.
"Receiving the award from Cannes – with the help of many votes from Paraguay – was a very important moment, and I received the Student Oscar," Baldwin says. "Winning an Oscar someday is the real dream. I know you can, I even saw my friends realize that dream. The most important thing is that these types of goals are not final, but rather to motivate one and then move on to something new."
Baldwin says the post production process for his rotary dial project is pretty easy – but you might need to remove excess dust from it manually as the wheel won't spin smoothly until all dust is removed and after a few uses.
Check out Baldwin's pixelnitrate.com to see his award-winning animations.