Top 25 "It" products of all time: #17 -- The Princess Phone

If you were a baby boomer - or the parents of one - then you remember the old-time telephones. You remember the 1930's classic -form follows function - desk phone, clunky, black and squat. You remember when colors arrived and the appearance of the wall phone. If you were a girl, what you remember best and with the most emotion was the princess phone. You really had to have one.

The princess had a great advertising slogan, "It's little...It's lovely...It lights." Introduced by AT&T in 1959, the little phone was the first phone designed with a focus on marketing. It was an immediate commercial success. Originally a rotary phone (for those of you born later, until 1963 phones were operated by a dial instead of a keypad), the sweet, aptly-named princess was designed to fit on your night table. Although ads advised that "Any room is the room for your princess phone," with its light-up-dial that also served as a night light, the princess was first and foremost a boudoir phone.You could spend an hour just choosing the color. The princess came in pink, blue, turquoise, white, yellow, green, black, beige, gray and ivory. It also came in red and black.

The princess was designed by Henry Dreyfuss, a famous industrial designer. By 1963, it was available in a touch-tone model. It was produced using the original design until 1986. The phone was heavily redesigned in 1993. AT&T ended production of the princess in 1994. Of the imitations and reproductions available today, Crosley Radio ($49.99 plus shipping) is probably the best known.

The princess' cache, combined with the termination of production, has made the vintage models collectible. Most valued are the hard- to- find colors: pink, turquoise and black. There are dozens of princesses available on eBay as well. They're fun to look at.
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