My wife and I are both working from home these days, much like a lot of other people, forced to make do in home offices. Fortunately (I guess, depending on your definition of “fortune”), we’re a childless couple, so we’re able to have our own separate offices, converted from the extra bedrooms of our typical suburban 3 bedroom, 2 bath house.
Unfortunately, this means that if we need to communicate with each other, we either need to send text messages or shout. And, despite our spare bedroom/offices being adjacent to each other, more often than not, we can’t hear each other even if our voices are raised.
As a solution, I suggested we get intercoms. Which reminded me of the intercoms we had growing up in the 70s and 80s.
A lot of houses at the time had nifty built-in intercoms from the NuTone Corporation, with a little panel in each room.
These were tied to a central unit, typically in the kitchen:
This featured an AM/FM radio to broadcast music throughout the house. Because nothing sounds as great as tinny speakers blaring shitty 70s music wherever you go in your domicile.
You don’t see these in houses anymore. They don’t seem to be popular in new builds, though it does look like you can still get modern versions, and most people rip them out when they renovate older homes.
Growing up, however, we weren’t fortunate-enough to have a built-in system. Instead, we made do with a couple of these units that dad picked up at the local Radio Shack:
Pressing the Call button would ping the other unit. Talk would allow you to speak to the other person (you’d stop pressing the button to hear the response—this was strictly half-duplex). And Lock would lock down the Talk button so you could just keep talking without having to hold the button or wait for the other person to answer (though I suppose you could use this a baby monitor so you didn’t have to rely on your baby remembering to hold the Talk button himself).
After that wave of nostalgia, I’m tempted to pick up this pair on Ebay to solve our household communications issues.