Did anybody else, in the pre-ESS days, ever deliberately call a busy
number (like your own), and then have conversations with other people
doing the same thing? Back then, the busy signal for each switch came
from a common source, and you could, sort of, talk between beeps. We
called it the 'beep line', and their was much mourning when the
electronic switches made it go away. Remember, this was small town, pre
internet, pre chatline, pre-blog, pre-chatroom, pre cellphone, pre CB
radio, etc. If you couldn't drive, and it was too far to walk and too
crappy out to ride a bike, you took your social contact where you could
Yeah, we were pathetic.
How did you arrange these "beep talk sessions"? Did people just hang
around listening to busy signals hoping someone else joined the party?
"We were pathetic" might be the understatement of the year! <g>
We just cranked the handled and "Central" picked up and would plug us
onto the line--normally whether they were already talking or not... :)
And, of course, w/ the party line, all you had to do was pick up and
join in almost any time... :)
This worked best on old step offices (Stroger) since busy
tone was delivered to groups of 8 lines. The tone level
dropped as each new recipient was added, so it was easier to
talk over it. You all called the same busy number at the
same time to end up on the same tone source.
The "feature" didn't last long in college towns. It caused
all circuit busy for all 100 numbers in that group, ie: the
busy target was 555-1234, when 8 calls were setting on busy,
the rest of 555-1200 to 555-1299 couldn't receive calls.
Easy fix, busy tone was raised 20db, eight pairs of
resistors dropped it back to normal. That put 40 db loss
between each busy. Soldering resistors was a welcome break
from replacing relay contacts, washing the racks and floors,
for the new guy in 1968 ;-)
Thanks for the memory jogger, there. Now that I think about it, we (the
crowd I hung out with) would all call the number for the answering
machine at the local theatre (it played a 'what is on tonight recording
for about 45 seconds), since that is a number we all knew by heart, and
was usually busy anyway.
On Thu, 27 Mar 2008 05:17:21 -0500, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
If I dial my own number (7 digits) here I get a few seconds of silence
followed by a recording saying I must now include the area code.
Dialing 10 digits gives me a busy signal.
BTW, they started requiring 10 digits for all calls here about 3 years
ago, because of a new "overlay" area code. I still haven't seen EVEN
ONE number that uses the new area code.
What can I say? it was a small town, with only 3-4 prefixes at the time.
Most weeknights after supper, there were people on there, as well as
late at night on non-school nights. In many ways, much like anonymous
chat sites are now- voices were pretty garbled, so lots of slamming
people and spreading rumors. I mainly lurked. I wouldn't hang on there
for hours (multiple siblings wanting to make or expecting calls would
have killed me), but phone was in the hall, so on the way back from the
can, I'd pop on there and see if there were any voices, and if the
subject matter was interesting. Kinda like nosy neigbors used to do on
party lines. One time, I was talking to a young lady that lived a ways
out of town, and I used some Bad Words, and caught an earful from her
old neighbor lady that liked to listen in.
The town I live in used to have just one prefix. That was before fax,
internet, and cellular phones. You used to be able to make a local
call by dialing only 5 digits. That's another thing that went away
re :You used to be able to make a local call by dialing only 5 digits
Slightly OT, but we moved our offices from downtown to the suburbs and
got new numbers because the 3 digit exchange couldn't be moved. In
fact, it's a whole new phone system, new phones, etc.
Anyway, downtown we could dial the last 4 digits to speak to a
coworker, now we have to dial all 7 digits for an internal call.
We have to dial 9 for an outside line and most ot the time I hit 9 out
of habit, thus making an outside call to talk to my assistant in the
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