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People Top 5
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- October 03, 1977
- Vol. 8
- No. 14
David Alan is a self-taught electronics whiz who will design and manufacture a telephone to fit into almost anything. In the past two years he's crafted phones from a gas mask (below), from beer cans, encyclopedias, vases, lamps, skulls (the eyes light up to signal a call) and into the tummy of a plastic King Kong. "I'm not crazy about plain ringing phones," he says. "I prefer lights or sound effects." One of his early inspirations came from the old Get Smart TV show; Alan built a phone into a man's shoe. The dial was inside, the earpiece was in the sole and the user talked into the heel. He sold it for $17. Alan, 21, began tinkering as a kid in Newton, N.J., where he grew up. By the time he got into high school, he was hooked on telephones. "I guess I made a phone for just about every girl I went out with," he remembers. "I learned as I went. I use mostly standard telephone components, but if I have to fit a particular situation, I can compact a phone by about 60 percent with subminiaturization." A University of Miami dropout, Alan's largest creation to date is a seven-foot hollowed-out tree trunk with a phone inside. The asking price is $3,500. Ma Bell hasn't actually given Alan's extensions the okay but, he says, "My phones are compatible with telephone company equipment just about anywhere. I'm always careful to explain to customers the legalities. I don't run lines or make installations."
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