The Automation Demon

From the rotary telephone in my dorm room, I spun the longest digit–the “O.” I waited. The operator came on the line, and I explained that I wanted to place a collect call to my parents’ home. It was 7:30 p.m. on the second Sunday of the month in 1980. 60 Minutes wasn’t on for another half hour yet, so my timing was good. I heard my mom answer and accept the charges. We began talking before the operator even …

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