Unfinished Drywall

A few years ago we bought a house built in the late '70's. All of the original wallpaper was still there (either on the surface or buried under additional layers of wallpaper and paint). When we took it down, what we found underneath was unfinished drywall. It was very rough to the touch, like a low-grit sandpaper, and you could tell that it had never been painted - all original. We had to slick the walls with joint compound to finish them off before we could paint them. The other walls that were only painted were just fine. What I'm trying to explain is not a knockdown or other such wall texture. If you ran your knuckles across this stuff, you'd be sorry.
My question is, what gives? What is this stuff? Is it a normal construction practice to put up a cheaper drywall with no finish coat when you know that you're going to be hanging wallpaper before handing the house over to the original homeowner? A friend recently bought a house built in the early '90's and it turns out he's got the same problem.
Thanks!
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Got a photo, hard to see from here, drywall is smooth.
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Iv'e seen that happen to dry wall afew times my self, sometimes from over sanding of joints andf hitting the paper to much, or if it is left unfinished and it gets damp ,like form hanging wallpaper on it .I'm surprised you could remove the wallpaper when ever I've seen someone remve wallpaper from a unfinished wall the results are worse than you explain.I really dont think it had anything to do with the quality of wall board used.

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