Old Telephone Question

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wrote:

I am old enough to remember dial-less phones with a crank. Operation was very simple. There were ALL the houses on the street on the line. Each house had a ring code that they listened to whenever a call was made to anyone on the line, yes, all the phones rang at the same time. In the basement were two huge dry cells that powered the phone.
You called someone by turning the crank which generated enough power to ring the bells on all the phones on the line. Our number was R5, which meant you listened for 5 short rings, some others were R1L2S, which was 1 long ring and 2 short. To call a neighbor you would turn the crank to create a long ring and 2 short rings or whatever their code was. Then you picked up the handset and listened to see if they picked up. To call out of your line to another line you held down a button and turned the crank, it would ring in the operator's office they would pick up and you told them the number that you needed to be connected to.
Later we got dial phones that automated the process without the crank but still used the party line with coded rings. I can remember someone calling from the city to one of the houses, and calling every 10 minutes throughout the night. Finally one of my parents picked up the phone and asked them to stop so we could get some sleep. Apparently there was an emergency and they were trying to get the other family and being in the city, did not realize that in the country all the phones were ringing not just the party that they had dialed.
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 14:27:28 -0400, "EXT"

Faxcinating. They had a couple dynamos from crank telephones in the 8th grade science classrom, and we in the ham radio club played with them. Mostly we learned that when our hand or something was connecting the output screws, it was pretty easy to turn the crank, but when nothing was, it was much harder.
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On 3/22/2011 1:31 AM, mm wrote:

That's odd, I thought it would be the other way like a generator or alternator. Actually it seems impossible for it to have been that way, if it was then all electric company generators would need less power for more output. Energy crisis solved.
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On Tue, 22 Mar 2011 09:27:35 -0400, Tony Miklos

I was surprised too. I think it has to do with magnetic lines of force from the dynamo then acting on the dynamo making a force which would turn the crank in the other direction. If you stop cranking, it doesn't move in the other direction becaue you don't create that force. Something like that.

Well, I don't think it's a staight line. If there were two hands connecting the output, it woudln't be even easier, and to speed up the cranking, to power each hand, or bell, would take more energy.
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In typed:

Tehnically, all the responses so far are correct IF certain rules are followed; blindly tapping the button on a phone on residential lines though was not likely to get anything to happen. Most people did it out of frustration except say on a hotel "PBX" or more likely a key system, sometimes tapping it would get the operator, IF it was done properly. In the days before rotary dialling, there was always an operator standing by. In the days OF rotary dialing, the operator was no longer sitting at the console to see any flashing or otherwise on the line. The flashing had to math digit timing requirements or it simply did nothing. Phackers and phone people are/were about the only ones to know how to do this reliably and even they made mistakes once 7-digit dialling happened. I remember our first phone number was 99-R. Then came rotary and it was 4 digits for a few years. and then 7 digits. Then came dialable area codes and 10 or 11 digit dialling to get a different area. Prior to that you had to call the opearator for a long distance call. Oh, and information was free. When today's DTMF (dual-tone multifrequency) dialling came along, they kept the old rotary dial detection for many years and then slowly started dropping the detection of rotary signalling. Since it's just a software setting in today's CO (Central Office) software it's easy to switch it off or on because for a lot of years people still kept their old rotary phones. I got to learn a lot of this as manager for a compliance testing lab for worldwide telecom compliance.
HTH,
Twayne`
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Twayne wrote:
[snip]

I was visiting some relativesvthat were on a party line when direct distance dialing was made available. The operator still got involved when you called long distance. You had to give YOUR number.

--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us
  Click to see the full signature.
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snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

Repeatedly hitting the hang-up switch effectively dials the operator. This was still working up until a decade or so ago.
Now you can't even dial the operator anymore.
And they call it progress.
Jon
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 05:01:35 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

Yes.
I hope not.

Well, it works when there is a manual switchboard and a switchboard operator. It flashes the light on her board, which attracts more attention than a glowing light.

I think it's a stage direction left over from the days of switchboard operators. New York City had dial phones in the 30's iirc, and certainly the 40's, based on movies I've seen**, but my home in a small city in Western Pa. didn't have dial phones until 1955 or 56.
I went to school one day and when I got home, the phone in my parents bedroom had been changed to one with a dial, and the one in the kitchen had had its flat top removed and replaced with one with a dial facing forward, standing on top.
After that, we dialed, but before then we would pick up the handset and wait until the operator came on. She would say "Number, plea-uz" and after we gave her a number, it might have made a ringing sound until someone answered. I can't remember. But if the line was busy, the operator came back and said, "The line is busssssy". Her pronunciation of busy is where they got the busy signal, imnsho.
When my mother first moved to this town of 50,000 in 1945, she would tell the operator, OLiver 4-3111, please, or OLiver 4-2347. After a couple days, the operator said, "You don't have to say Oliver 4****, ma'am. They're all Oliver 4." There may have been other Olivers, but everything more than about 20*** miles away was long distance. To call long distance, you said "Long Distance, please" and she connected you to the long distance operator. ***Actually, I don't really know. We didn't know any farmers, and everyone we knew was within 5 miles, or greater than 50, or greater than 20 and in the next state.
****Hmmm. The four digits after Oliver 4 are enough for 10,000 numbers, but there were 50,000 people and businesses. Families were bigger then, but I think this means not everyone had a phone.
**They might have anacrhonisms backwards in the movies, but not fowards. They didn't put dial phones in movies before they were actually in use.
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wrote:

I left out hotels, which used manual operators longer than the public phone system.
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wrote:

Especially since so many of those scenes of them clicking the hook take place in hotels, where they might well work.
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On 3/20/2011 2:03 PM, mm wrote:

In most areas that I have traveled in within US, you can still pulse-dial a telephone by using the hang-up button as a telegraph key. (if you still have a real electromechanical phone, that is.) It takes a little practice, but I have done it. They used to sell silly little mechanical locks for parents and employers to lock a telephone dial, for phones that didn't have anyone watching them, to prevent people from making free calls. People very quickly learned the telegraph-key work-around for that.
--
aem sends...

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wrote:

I only had to do that when I was kidnapped by communist agents and held in a basement for 4 months. Then they changed my room to one with a locked phone. I'm glad 911 is only 3 digits.
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wrote:

OLiver4 became 654, just like MOhawk9 became 669, and SHerwood4 became 744 for direct dialing. And most definitely, not everyone had a phone "back when"
And with the "crank" phone, if you needed to talf to someone on your same "line", you just cranked the "ring" number.
Grandad's farm was line 56, ring 32, so to get anyone on the "line 56" (party line) you just cranked three short cranks, a space of a few seconds, and 3 more, for instance, to get the Visschers on "ring 33"
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 21:37:59 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Yeah, for sure. I don't know why I made it sound like there was a doubt.

Let me try that. OL4-5633. It's ringing.... I'll post back after I talk to them. I'll tell them Clare at 5622 was speaking favorably about them.
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 14:02:03 -0400, mm wrote:

We had this one rotting away in the entrance to a storage building where I used to work:
http://www.patooie.com/temp/switchboard.jpg
... not sure how old it was, but probably 1940s. Operator lights visible at the top of the plugboards. I can't remember if the stations on the reverse-side were identical or not. I think they had dials to the right of each of the three stations, but these had been removed and were kicking around in a box somewhere.
(the thing underneath is a printer used as part of seismic monitoring setup, and not related to the rest)
cheers
Jules
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Jules Richardson wrote:

You can get BIG bucks for that thing on Ebay.
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On Mon, 21 Mar 2011 17:22:14 -0500, HeyBub wrote:

I don't know, it was pretty rotted-out and probably incomplete (I even have a really fuzzy memory that's telling me it was used for training purposes, rather than a 'live' exchange - I might go chasing some details from folks who know for sure...)
There were a couple of other similar items there - a single operator station which looked like a later version (more metal, less wood and faux leather), and other 'thing' that seemed to be of that same earlier era, but much more complex. Oh, and a little 5-line (IIRC) PBX that was probably late 50s / early 60s (but still all nice banks of relays :-)
That rotted exchange is quite similar to the (much bigger) one that was found in the underground bunker at Burlington:
http://www.theblogbelow.com/2008/07/burlington-nuclear-bunker-at-c.html
cheers
Jules
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Jules Richardson wrote:

You don't know 'til you try - heck, you've already got the picture.
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On Mon, 21 Mar 2011 19:36:46 +0000 (UTC), Jules Richardson

I wish I could find one of those. I could start my own phone company and make a fortune. Even if I only charged $1 for each land line call, and $2 for each cellphone call, I'd still get rich for doing nothing but plugging in a few wires each hour of the day. :)
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 14:02:03 -0400, mm wrote:

We had this one rotting away in the entrance to a storage building where I used to work:
http://www.patooie.com/temp/switchboard.jpg
... not sure how old it was, but probably 1940s. Operator lights visible at the top of the plugboards. I can't remember if the stations on the reverse-side were identical or not. I think they had dials to the right of each of the three stations, but these had been removed and were kicking around in a box somewhere.
(the thing underneath is a printer used as part of seismic monitoring setup, and not related to the rest)
cheers
Jules
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