For some reason unknown to me, my house that was built in the mid 1950s has "tungsten or ballasts" wired to each of the light fixtures on the main floor of the house. All of these light fixtures house incandescent bulbs, except for one track lighting fixture which contains 4 50 watt halogen reflector bulbs.
The corresponding light switches are a side-to-side soft toggle style that I haven't seen in any other homes. The switches float in a neutral position after being pressed. When pressing the switch to the on position, the ballast clicks and buzzes like a relay for an instant.
Does anyone have any ideas as to why things are wired this way? Can I simply remove the ballasts and wire in standard light switches?
Here is an image of one of the ballasts:
Here is an image of one of the switches: