Old Telephone Question

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I watch a lot of old movies from the 50s and 60s. I never understand why it is, when those old rotary dial phones would not work, or someone hangs up, the person on the phone would keep hitting the buttons that normally hang up the phone (under the handset). Is this just a theatrical thing, or did people really do that, and if they did, why? It seems stupid because all it does is repeatedly hangup and get the dialtone. But maybe back then there was a reason.
Actually I know that those rotary phones actually made a series of clicks in the wires, so maybe there was a reason???
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snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

Tapping the cradle buttons does not hang up the phone. They must remain depressed for about two seconds. Rapidly depressing the buttons flashes the light on the operator's switchboard.
Actually, you can dial a number by tapping the hand-set buttons. The clicks are the same as the stepping switch inside the instrument. If you force the dial, you'll get the wrong number inasmuch as the clicks are time sensitive.
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 05:01:35 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

It got the operator's attention. Girl is sitting in front of a huge board - a light on, or a light off is her cue. If one starts flashing, it will get her attention quicker. [I think there was an audible sometimes, too-- I've had annoyed operators tell me to stop 'flashing the hook'.]
I don't remember the contacts failing on those old 500 phones, but that was also a way to make sure they were 'loose'.

You could dial a number with those clicks. Each click was a digit- pause a couple seconds between numbers.
Jim
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On 3/20/2011 7:56 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote: (snip)

In many cases, it was the buttons getting jammed in the holes in the cradle. In filthy environments, grit (or something sticky) would sometimes get down in there, and those early plastics would sometimes gall, or the pivot point inside would be totally gummed up. I've repaired more than one old phone for people, back in the day, by field-stripping it, and washing all the plastic parts in sink or dishwasher, and using electronic cleaner on the internal moving parts. Some of my trashpicked/salvaged/garage sale phones were so filthy I brought them home in a plastic bag, but unless they were actually rusty inside, I could usually bring them back to life. Unlike modern throw-away phones, those old WE 500/2500s were designed for a several-decade service life. There are ones older than I am still in daily service.
--
aem sends...

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aemeijers wrote:

Yep. I still have one next to my computer.
--

dadiOH
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 10:21:07 -0500, dadiOH wrote:

Old phones were certainly built to last - I had a couple when I lived in England, one from the 1960s and one from the 1940s (a GPO 706 and 164) that were still working.
One day I'll ship them over to the US and see if I can get them working with the US system (I'm not sure to what extent US exchanges still emulate the old strowger-type exchanges - and then there'd probably be some screwing around with some of the internal components to do, but I think "in theory" it might be possible to get them to work)
cheers
Jules
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wrote:

I have one in the basement. It still has the shoulder rest that my mother liked. Much easier to have both hands free. But the rubber about 10 or 20 years ago turned into a very viscous liquid. Much of it moved 1/4 inch, exposing very white parts that were in the middle of the sheet of rubber, and a little dripped off the edge. But this all stopped, maybe because it's in the basement now where it never gets over 70.
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Jim Elbrecht wrote:
[snip]

I remember that. Also, when I moved to a small town in 1988, they still had an old mechanical exchange with a translator device for tone dialing. I would call a local number:
7-0212
(yes, we dialed 5 digits for local calls. That was until the new ESS exchange was put in in the early 1990s)
and it would take a long time to connect, while you could hear:
click-click-click-click-click-click-click click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click click-click click click-click
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us
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On 3/20/2011 8:17 AM Mark Lloyd spake thus:

Hey, this is the same situation when I lived in Flagstaff, AZ (until 1989). There were two old exchanges, 774- and 779-, which allowed you to drop the first two digits and dial 4-xxxx or 9-xxxx. I guess this was a common feature at that time in the U.S.
What small town were you in?
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On 3/20/2011 8:13 PM, David Nebenzahl wrote:

Had that in PA too but it stopped working in the early 70's.
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 23:17:48 -0400, Tony Miklos

distance
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[snip]

They did that here. It's been more than 5 years since they started requiring all 10 digits. AFAIK NOBODY uses the new area code.
--
Mark Lloyd
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On 3/21/2011 8:48 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Yes, when I was in PA I had to dial all 10 numbers for all calls. But it's actually easier than here in TN. Down here certain numbers in the same area code may or may not require a 1 plus area code. I still say if the phone system is smart enough to tell me I should or should not have dialed a 1 plus the area code, then it's smart enough to just connect me the first try either way I dialed it!
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[snip]

I thought of that when I got that error message when (I forgot why) I had dialed a 1 before a local call. I would have thought it would cost them (the phone company) less to connect the call than the message-playing equipment.
--
Mark Lloyd
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On Tue, 22 Mar 2011 20:49:20 -0500, Mark Lloyd

Some regulatory agencies or state/local laws mandate that the phone company require the "1" before a toll call, so you know you're being charged extra. That extends sometimes to 10/11-digit dialing (10 digits if the call is in your local/free area, 1 required if not). Probably made more sense when even an in-state long distance call could be many tens of cents a minute...
Josh
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Josh wrote:
[snip]

And I suppose that requires the ANSENSE of a 1 before a local number.
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Mark Lloyd
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David Nebenzahl wrote:
[snip]

Henderson, Texas (between Tyler and Shreveport LA). At one time, all the local phone numbers were (214) 657 - xxxx. Now there are too many people, and cell phones. Exchanges now include 655, and at least 239, 646, 658, 720, 722 for cell phones. Also, the area code has changed, 214 is just around Dallas.
--
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Well into at least the 1980's, we used to have to pay *extra* for touch-tone dialing (about $1/month) -- and we lived in a bigh high-tech Northeast city! It was considered a luxury feature.
Interestingly, touch tone dialing was often on by default (without charge) back in the days when you had to rent equipment from the phone company. But if you somehow added your own touch tone phone, they would eventually detect it and either start charging you or actually shut off the service.
Of course, this had everything to do with marketing and nothing to do with actual marginal cost since once the technology was installed it probably was cheaper to connect a touch-tone call than a rotary call.
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green wallmount Northern Electric 554 in the kitchen.
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On 3/20/2011 6:01 AM, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

The old telephone switchgear was electromechanical and clicking the hook switch could free a stuck selector. Clicking the hook switch 10 times could actually connect you to the operator.
TDD
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