back to article Live or let dial - phones ain’t what they used to be

Shut up shut up shut up. Some annoying tit is typing away on his laptop as I’m trying to snooze on the train – except it doesn’t sound like he’s typing so much as rummaging through a bag of Scrabble tiles. It’s a horrible clattery, clickety, plasticky noise. Shut up shut up shut up, you twat. I’m on the train heading home …

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JDX
Gold badge

How well timed

I'm down in the south for the funeral of my father, who used to work in telephones and after retirement collected old phones - ostensibly to sell at a profit - and built a working exchange. It even talked to other hobbyist exchanges via a Linux box and VOIP... apparently there's a whole HAM-radio-esque community of such enthusiasts.

Anyway, bottom line is we are left with about 400 BPO phones - trimphones, series 200 & 300 rotary diallers, and early push-button ones (700 series maybe).

They're worth anything up to £200 for the rarer ones (red apparently)!

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Re: How well timed

I'm sorry for your loss.

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M7S

Re: How well timed

How might we get in touch if these are for sale?

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Pint

Re: How well timed

Red 2 and 3 series, are worth a lot more than 200, and if you have any green 300/200 series... you're rich, they go for well over 1k. Sorry for your loss, but you may also have won out. Just make sure they go to people who will appreciate them. And a pint, raised to your dad.

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Silver badge
Stop

Keyboard Keypads

People who insist on having their phone/gadget configured to emit a loud click, beep or other noise as they type each character....

WHY !?!?!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Keyboard Keypads

I remember turning that "feature" off on one amateur hand-held radio (Kenwood TH-F7E) when I first got it as that was the default setting.

On my bike however, the radio I have mounted there (Yaesu FT-857D) I do enable the key beeps, because otherwise buttons sometimes get bumped, and it's nice to know that something occurred, rather than pressing the PTT and finding you're on a completely different frequency to the one intended. (Or, in one case when I used to run the FT-897; finding it had slid forward and pressed a button turning on VOX… in time for me to run over what looked to be a snake and letting out a few expletives for listeners on the 40m band!) Thus it's an alert for accidental keypresses.

The beep in this case is only audible to me unless I unplug the headset. IMO this is how it should be: if you need that sort of thing, use a headset so it only bothers you. On phones, I can understand it in terms of knowing if the screen press has been detected; perhaps there are less obnoxious ways to do it.

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http://www.shoeboxblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/OLD-PHONE1.jpg

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Silver badge

Why the dial??

Everyone understands "righty tighty, lefty loosey" or words to that effect. You "wound" up the dial and it "unwound" (making the pulses as it went). The dial digit is the number of pulses (except in New Zealand) that the dial produces (but in order to make a zero, it needed to make 10). That gives the dial arrangement (the researchers at Bell Labs did a bunch of work on this!). Then they wanted user touch pads to be used. These started in the 60's. When faced with determining the layout, they looked back at the dial phone which had '1' at the top and went from there.

The adding machine layout (and that of modern keyboards) is more oriented to arithmetic, where the frequency of numbers is related to the inverse log of the digit (1 being used most often!). This led to the low digits being at the bottom where it took less effort to reach.

Yes, the old dial sets are nice, and most of the modern phones from the $10 throw-away ones to the most expensive ones (portable sets) have a switch that will allow generation of a pulse stream.

It is important to note that it takes less hardware to implement a pulse decoder (the loop current sensor is already there!), so that is what they used. It also lends itself to mechanical (relay) decoding. A modern dial (DTMF) decoder is not (thankfully) either a single chip, or some DSP software, which is pretty easy to implement, but this wasn't always the case. Back when it was first introduced, a DTMF decoder was a big bulky thing that could take up to a 1 foot cube of electronics. In those days the phone company charged for the nice decoding privilege. Now days the use of tone dials is encouraged since it takes LESS time to decode where you are going to be switched to (need less decoders as a shared resource). All of this leads to quicker completion times, and less "non-chargable" (the other side hasn't picked up yet) time equipment is busy.

Bottom line: Dial phones are "cool" and quaint. (somewhere I've got a 300 set!).

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Silver badge

Re: Why the dial??

"Then they wanted user touch pads to be used. These started in the '60s. When faced with determining the layout, they looked back at the dial phone which had '1' at the top and went from there."

Also, digits corresponded to letters, and if you laid out a push-button pad with 7-8-9 across the top the alphabet would run backwards, PRS TUV WXY GHI JKL NM ABC DEF.

(http://www.oldatheart.co.uk/old-phone-4.jpg)

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Silver badge

My Father's early 1950s Model 500 Western Electric rotary dial telephone is at my elbow, and still works just fine (yes, my local telco still supports pulse dialing :-).

Before you knee-jerk a "luddite"[1] comment, where will all the money you have spent on telephones be in 60+ years? Down the toilet, that's where. Think about it.

[1] I do cop to being a neo-luddite, however ... I use tools because they work, not because they are flashy or because the marketers or because my peers insist I should ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Old world phones with new world telephone services

The joys of a pulse dialling phone in this modern age of DTMF… I'm surprised no one brought this up.

http://www.xkcd.com/1072/

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Dial

Have you ever asked younger people what "dial" means?

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Anonymous Coward

Variations

Where I live, the dial was numbered 0,1,...,9 (anticlockwise). 0 is one pulse, 1 is two pulses..., 9 is ten pulses.

The emergency number used to be 90000, but the call was initiated after the third digit (assuming people in distress might not keep count of the zeros).

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I still have an old wooden and brass phone with fixed mouth piece and two bells on top. It works fine

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I wonder

How big the center of the Venn diagram is for rotary phone owners and IBM Model M keyboard owners?

Put me smack dab in the middle.

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Rotary dials were arranged the way they were because of the original switching system. It used mechanical stepping motors and each click of the rotor was a step on the switch. Zero was ten steps.

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Re: Featured image.

Pardon me for enquiring, but I am just puzzled as to wether the phone featured in the photo is a type 711from the late sixties ,or a 741 from the early eighties.

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Re: Featured image.

Neither, this isn't a 700 type phone. It was made by "Face Standard", which I believe was an Italian manufacturer.

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Re: Featured image.

711s and 741s actually look pretty much identical, (unlike the 706/746 desk models which are easy to tell apart). The innards of a 711 however, make a much better weapon :-)

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