So you could either use the dial or tap the hook switch repeatedly in the same sequence. I found it fun to dial numbers by tapping the hook switch. (I guess I am easily amused.)
I lived in San Jose in the mid-1990s, and our phones were all touch-tone, but the lines still supported rotary dialing as all phone lines did back then.
We had underground utilities that sometimes flooded in rainy weather. During one bad storm our phone was barely usable - when you picked up the phone all you could hear was click after click as the water intermittently shorted out the lines.
One day there was a loud and insistent knock on the door:
San Jose Police! Open up!
I asked if there was a problem and the officers said there had been a 911 call placed from our number but the caller hung up. The 911 dispatcher tried to call back and no one answered, so they were required to come out and investigate.
I invited them in and had them listen to the phone, and explained how rotary dial phones work and what must have happened: with all those clicks on the line, at some point there were nine clicks, then one, then one.
The officers were relieved that their emergency dispatch was just a technical glitch!
During the 80s or 90s when premium rate chatlines were a new thing, there was a fairly popular urban myth going round: that you could call them free by tapping out the number on the cradle. Course all you're doing is pulse dialling the hard way. You would still be getting the very expensive phone bill. :)
So the emergency number was 111 rather than 999 on the same basis of reducing accidental use, not just from line noise but especially from having the finger slip out partway through the turn of the dial (even with international dialling there was no reason anyone would attempt a number starting with three zeros)
The 746 was the standard handset just about everyone got in the 1970s.
Exotic was the arrival of the phone plug. Two phone points in the house and a push button phone, which usually still had a bell. The peak of 80s luxury. By the 90s I wanted a second line as the USRobotics Courier thing was always hogging the phone. :)
Although this style of phone was from the 50s or 60s, they remained in use for decades in private settings like schools, hospitals, hotels, pubs and the like right into the 90s.
I never paid for a local call from our high school phone by using this tapping technique. But thinking about it now, I suspect the calls weren't "free" - it just meant that the contents of the cash box was not enough to cover the bill the school received every month.
The author ends with this quote, "Today, it's unusual to see a rotary dial still in use. There is a generation growing up which has never made a phone call by turning the finger-wheel of a rotary dial telephone."
15 years later you can now make the same observation about touch tone phones.
Also, from the links page (http://www.arctos.com/links.html) only one of the external links from yesteryear still works.
I don't suppose much evolution has been missed since then.
The sound quality is still superior to newer phones. Occasionally some younger person will use one of them out of curiosity and will be amazed by how much more sonic detail comes through the receiver compared to their cell phone.
The end quote should be updated to, "Today, it's unusual to see a landline still in use. There is a generation growing up which has never made a phone call on a landline telephone."
Actually the Trimphone seems to have come in dial and full touch-tone variants.