Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This is another take on the common insult "<year> called and they want their <whatever> back". Randall has used this joke before in the comic "2009 Called". In this case, this one is funny because someone in the 70s would not know how to leave a voicemail because answering machines and especially voicemail had not been invented yet. His telephone has a rotary dial, rather than a touch tone, so he can't "press 1". Originally telephones had rotary dials instead of buttons. When you lifted the receiver you would hear a tone that let you know you had a connection and you could dial the number, this is the "dial tone." This is the origin of the phrases "dial tone" and "dialing a telephone number".
The title text plays off the fact that the telephone had not yet been invented in the seventeenth century. The title text also uses the long S, a standard way of writing the letter 's' in initial and medial locations of words. The character, 'ſ', looks like a lower-case 'f' without the cross-bar (or like an integral sign, which is derived from the long s (for sum) in much the same way that the summation symbol is derived from the Greek letter sigma). It was in common use in written English up through the mid 19th century, and would have been used in the 1670s.
- Cueball: Nice jacket. Hey—
- Cueball: The Seventies called.
- Out-of-panel: Oh? What'd they want?
- [Cueball looking at phone]
- Cueball: I don't know. They didn't leave a message.
- Out-of-panel: Weird.
- [Person in bell bottoms using a rotary phone to call the present day, with an incredulous look on his face.]
- Voicemail service: If you'd like to leave a message, press "1".
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Can someone comment on the S-es in image's title text? I can read it, but don't know what they mean. Probably some old spelling.
Done Blaisepascal (talk) 16:52, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Answering machines certainly had been invented by the 1970s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Answering_machine). The first practical commercial models started appearing in the 1960s and I had one that used an endless reel of magnetic tape in the 70s. Jonat (talk) 16:20, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
Touch tone phones were certainly around in 1974, although dial phones were still prevalent. Touch Tone dialing was introduced in the late 60s (it was a sufficient novelty that if you visited someone with TouchTone, they'd show it off) The "press 1" aspect came much later, with automatic voice response (AVR) systems, probably mid 80s, although dial phones were still in use ("or wait to be connected to an operator"). As noted by Jonat, answering machines with cassettes, loops, or reel to reel tapes were quite common in the 70s, as a result of the Carterfone decision allowing interconnection to the public switched system in the US.184.108.40.206 04:56, 22 January 2013 (UTC)Jim Lux
I've never encountered those "press 1 to leave a message"-type answering machines, only ones where it says: "[person you wanted to call] is not available at this moment. Please leave a message after the beep. *beep*". Maybe it's a US thing. 220.127.116.11 11:59, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
- Most voicemail systems here in the US, you just leave a message after the beep, and press 1 at the end for more options afterward before sending your message (e.g., to delete it and re-record). Some answering machines, though, (like the one on my landline) let a caller choose from several mailboxes by pressing a mailbox number during the outgoing message (e.g., "To leave a message for Aaron, press 1. To leave a message for Bob, press 2."). Most likely, Randall's just taking a small liberty to make the joke work. --Aaron of Mpls (talk) 20:20, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
Why does this revision say he has an incredulous look on his face, when he doesn't have a face? 18.104.22.168 03:04, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
- I've seen many incredulous chins in my time, and that chin reeks of incredulity. Kev (talk) 22:45, 17 January 2015 (UTC)