Vintage Technology: The Bone Fone
Move over MP3 players! The Bone Fone is here!
(Please try to contain yourself.)
This past weekend I was flipping through a vintage magazine (a March 1980 edition of Panarama, which was a magazine all about the TV industry). When lo! My eyes fell upon a Bone Fone ad! (See full advertisement at the bottom of this post.) I was instantly teleported back to the late 70s when I was a teenager.
Back then, there was no Internet, so we were forced to read magazines for entertainment and also so we could be told by the cognoscenti what we were supposed to be buying in order to be considered cool. I could barely afford the magazines themselves, let alone any of the products that the advertisements promised me would make me the coolest kid in the world, so these magazines kept me in a perpetual state of hopeful despair.
Sometime during that era, I saw an ad for the Bone Fone and was instantly fascinated.
This proved once and for all that advertising works. My teen-aged male eyes were drawn instantly to the picture of the pretty woman in the ad (just as the advertisers knew they would be). This woman was wearing what appeared to be the world’s most awkward and poorly designed ascot. Obviously I did not notice the ascot at first. It took a few minutes for my adolescent brain to realize there was something other than a pretty girl in the ad. But eventually I noticed the Bone Fone.
Intrigued, I read every word of the ad. The Bone Fone utilized the principal of bone conduction, which is actually a real thing. I thought, “This may be the greatest invention in the history of mankind!” This was several decades before the invention of ear buds, so the very notion that you could wear a device that would allow you to hear music when no one around you could was simply astounding! It was mind boggling.
I wanted a Bone Fone so badly I could taste it. I bought the story of its invention, as told in the ad, hook line and sinker. Of course, I also believed those little ads in comic books that said I could buy a pair of X-Ray glasses that really worked. I was a highly desirable demographic for advertisers peddling cheap, crappy, and borderline fraudulent products to gullible and highly susceptible teen-aged boys (of which I was one).
But … Alas! The $69.95 price tag (plus $2.50 shipping and handling) put the Bone Fone well out of reach for me.
Time went by. I eventually forgot about the Bone Fone, though I would occasionally think of it and wonder if it truly worked as advertised. I read a few message boards about the Bone Fone this weekend and saw mixed reviews. Some people said they worked just fine. Some said it was completely worthless. Now I’m more curious than ever.
A quick look on eBay this weekend showed me that these things have held their value amazingly well. Prices ranged from $69.95 all the way up to $99.95. Perhaps I should have invested in them way back when I could have gotten in on the ground floor.
Unfortunately, I still can’t afford one. Some things never change.