Here’s an old idea we wish some intrepid manufacturer would update and put back on the market.

The concept behind the Anti-Pest Doorbell couldn’t be simpler: Make strangers who come to your door pay for the privilege of ringing the bell.


As often happens, we stumbled on this undated archival clipping while searching for something totally unconnected on the Web and immediately became captivated by the idea.

Our inventor — the epitome of an engineer from computing’s Big Iron Age (i.e.- the 1970s) — appears to have simply adapted a lock from a pay toilet stall to disable the door bell until a dime is inserted in the coin slot.

If it’s a friend at the door, you simply give them their dime back. If it’s a salesman, a religious canvasser or some other stranger you don’t want to talk to, the need to insert a coin could have a strong deterrent effect on their initial desire to ring the bell.

One upgrade any contemporary manufacturer would have to consider would be to increase the tariff from a dime to some amount reflecting the effects of inflation since 1970. A quick canvas of TLP editorial staffers suggests $1 would be an effective deterrent today…

3 Responses to Retro Tech: Anti-pest door bell

  1. Evolving Squid
    Mar 02, 2009

    Presumably this also requires a metal door and wiring it to a television flyback transformer (another relic from the olde days), lest the caller save their dime and simply knock.

  2. Maggie James
    Mar 02, 2009

    Ah… Well, I think a clarification is in order: The do-it-yourself kit for the ‘revival’ model should definitely include a sign for the door saying ‘Bell only – The resident will not answer knocks’.

  3. Anonymous
    Mar 04, 2009

    I much prefer a simple sign: Keep knocking, I’m reloading.

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