You lucky git ...
... I look like an infamous Norwegian maniac
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 …
I bought a 706 at a car boot sale for 15 quid a couple of weeks ago for use as a stage prop. It's ivory and in pristine condition - even the carbon granule mic is as clear as a bell. A couple of diodes and a resistor later and it's hooked up on my home line and working perfectly. I had to give my 13 year-old son a lesson in how to use it though!
numbers are arranged anti-clockwise around the dial, which makes even less sense than designing counting machines to have 7-8-9 on the top row
Of course they are! Otherwise you had to move your finger anti-clockwise to dial. What's the problem with that, you may ask. Well, it just doesn't make much sense, does it?
Well, in New Zealand the dials turned in the same direction as here, but the numbers were arranged clockwise on the dial. It all worked perfectly: the NZPO defined the number of pulses per number its compliment, so dialling 1 emitted ten pulses and dialling 0 emitted one. And, before you ask, the emergency number was 111, not 999.
I don't think so.
I think it was a "non-tariff trade barrier" that kept the ludicrously inefficient local phone making factory in business. It's receding into the mists of time, but I think it was a Pye (or Phillips?) factory in Porirua where they made the things that were different enough from 'proper' phones that it wasn't worth anyone else making them for the tiny local NZ market.
In those days of course you could rent - not buy - your handset from anyone you liked as long as you liked the Post Office. And they could often connect your house to the phone network in less than three months. Ah, the Good Old Days.
Yes. And that explains why they were the other way around in New Zealand (see above post).*
*Yes, yes, I'm aware that Australia, for one, had it the same way around as British phones. I worked** for Australia's overseas telecommunications entity long ago. They had to add special stuff in their exchanges to handle NZ phone numbers.
** if that's the word, of course.
tapping the number was when you figured out how it all worked and then realised your local supermarkets one button only taxi firm phone was your ticket to free phone calls, I remember how the locks the old rotary dial phones used to make me chuckle too, to many zero's was rather annoying though... pulse dialing was even more fun and yes I did have captain crunch for breakfast...
Where I live, last time I checked, you had to personally visit the office of the phone company and write a paper request to have DTMF enabled on your home line. So, I had to configure my SIP ATA to use pulse dialling.
Speaking of vintage tech, years before that, I was rather thrilled when I had an opportunity to connect a 386 PC running SCO UNIX to the telegraph network with a specialized adapter, and could login and enter commands from a real electromechanical telegraph terminal. At 50 baud!
I was amazed to read, back about 15 years ago, that some Ten Million US homes still had a Rotary phone in their home - and a surprising percentage of those people were still LEASING them from their local phone monopoly, at well over a dollar per month. I know that my mother paid over $1,000 to lease her 1963 rotary phone just between 1987 and 1997. This phone was installed when we built the house in '63, but we'd thrown that phone away sometime in the early 80s - and failed to notify the phone co, since Mom didn't KNOW that she was paying for it!
Gotta love that fine print on the bill! [Don't bash my poor mother, she was in her eighties when I discovered this outright theft by Ohio Bell]
Clicking the handset rest* was a way to make free calls from pre-STD** call boxes.
IIRC, to make calls legally, you had to insert four pre-decimal pennies, things about the size and weight of a bronze coaster, dial the number, and when you were connected, press Button A to commit the transaction. There was a Button B for rollback. I suppose the phone wouldn't transmit dial pulses until you proved you had the money, but the line was enabled so you could simulate them by clicking the receiver rest.
It sounds like the Middle Ages, especially when you realise that the four pennies we saved were worth 1.7p in decimal money.
*known, confusingly as "phone tapping"
**Subscriber Trunk Dialling, not Sexually Transmitted Disease
Only in 1971. Nowadays 4d is worth 20p (at least according to the Daily Fail's inflation calculator)
On a broader note, I wish the BBC et al would stop doing the conversions from old LSD values to "New Pence" as if it was a direct numerical conversion. A shilling in the '60s bought you a damn sight more than 5p does now. Oddly enough, when it comes to pounds sterling they always make an inflation-adjusted conversion, but not with coinage.
Remember doing it back in about 1986 when there were still some old A - B button phones available.
As I recall 1s, 9s and 0s could be dialled directly - the numbers from 2 to 8 had to be tapped.
Which raises a further question. 999 was picked to avoid the accidental dialling of 111 through the contacting of lines - essentially the same result as tapping or dialling a 1.
Wonder how many phantom calls the new non-emergency NHS number gets these days. Sometimes it pays to remember the old history.
When 112 was introduced in the early 90's as a pan-European emergency number (it works alongside 999 in the UK) there was a significant amount of false calls. At the time one solution was to disable loop disconnect dialling on lines that were prone to problems as a short-term fix until the underlying line problem could be addressed.
Sometimes the problem was overhead lines running through trees, sometimes it was dodgy internal wiring - often people who'd poorly routed the cabling for an extension so that opening a door crushed the wires and caused a short, and sometimes it was slightly mad people who tapped the switch-hooks a lot in the manner of Hollywood movies when someone has been cut off.
When I were a lad, I think a light went on in the exchange when you lifted the receiver. The operator would then plug her (usually her) headset into your socket, and say, "Which number do you require?". So, I suppose, tappy tapping it would cause a flashing light alarm. My phone number was Honiton 709, when I was six years old.
Because doing that summoned the operator in the old pre-dial days.
I'm not ancient but I've lived in a couple of places where phones had crank handles and you had to listen to the morse-coded ringing to work out if a call was for you, or the neighbours or the bloke 2 miles down the road,
That's because you know you've dialled it wrong and tapped the switch hook before re-dialling, whereas with push-button phones you often don't realise before you're connected. How do you know? You just know. It's a proper UI, there's not many of those about these days.
I'm convinced BT's entire national network is set up to understand pulse dial phones just for my parents' phone, by the way.
Anyone else remember spending ages trying to dial numbers by just clicking the handset rest?
Hell, I remember having a phone stored on memory and doing the reverse process: hearing the clicks generated by the phone, then substracting 1 from the click batches and voila! I have the phone number!
(Ok, if you heard 11 clicks, that was 0.)
Indeed. SInce most people would dial with the fisrt finger on their right hand, they would prefer to do so clockwise, as most of the numbers would require a movement using the stronger muscles used to curl the finger, rather than the weaker, less easily controlled muscles used to extend the finger. So, surprisingly, the dial was a masterpiece of ergonomic design; it's just the concept of a dial rather than buttons that seems ridiculous but you have to remember that we are talking about a device that harks back to times of analogue systems and pulse dialling.
The further the dial travels back, the more pulses are induced. Otherwise they would have had to change the system, too, in the sense that "1" would be ten pulses, "9" two and "0" one pulse, like Martin Gregorie said it is/was in New Zealand. The way it is here, i.e. "1" is one pulse, either the numbers where arranged anti-clockwise and the dial turning clockwise or vice versa. Or a rather complicated mechanism within the phone. They went for simplicity.
I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the arrangement was simply because the lower numbers were used more often¹. The presupposes you accept the clockwise / anticlockwise argument. The numbers nearer the "end" were quicker and took less effort to dial (wow - been a while since I used that verb in a remotely sensible way). Of course, this was all ruined when they introduced the 0 prefix. Anyone remember, "Whitehall 1212"?
¹Is this an example of Benford's law?
I've had students here marvel at my ability to get the computer to do things by typing commands on the (er) command line. I presume they grew up just wiggling their mouse cursor at icons or something. I imagine that in 10 years they'll even be baffled by mice, let alone actual typing.
Remember the pre........ Dial Phones (pre 1967 ish )
Insert 4 Pennies (pre decimal currency 4d ) then press button A to connect to the operator who would ask for the number to call and then connect you
after the call press button B to collect unused credit
wonder how our young sprogs would cope with that ????
I have one too, wife bought it for me as a present a few years ago, it's cream, exactly like the one my folks had when I was a nipper, great rIng and the kids hate using it which keeps the bills down.
Press 1 for blah isn't fun though, some of those systems take ages to time out and pass you on to a human.
Proper phones are black, and made from super-heavy Bakelite (I'm sure I've seen old films where people are clubbed insensible, if not to death, with the handset). The cord isn't new-fangled plastic coil rubbish, it's respectable, plaited, silk-on-rubber-on-copper.
It was the heavy steel frame inside the casing that gave rotary-dial handsets their weight, and they needed it since they had to stay still on the table or desk while you turned the dial to make calls. It's the same reason IBM Model M keyboards have a heavy steel plate in their base so they don't slide around as you type. The ability to crush a spammer's skull with one is a bonus.
Actually, Bakelite is a lightweight thermosetting plastic. It's tough, so it's suitable for "clubbing to death" use. If you want a really heavy handset, then I recall seeing a Scandinavian* cast iron handset in a 'phone exhibition at the London Design Museum a couple of decades ago.
*That's a geographical area, not some relative of Scandium.
I had my 9-year-old nephew visiting and he was thoroughly confused and enchanted by the working rotary dial phone in my living room. I had to show him how to dial it and he nearly jumped out of his skin when I made it ring while he was standing right next to it. (I have all the electronic chirping of my cordless phones silenced and only my two rotary phones ring.)
Take him to one of the museums with a working electro-mechanical (Strowger) telephone exchange and let him see how the dial is remotely operating the bits of kit that connect the call together. The one at Amberley chalk pits in Sussex is excellent.
My 5yo daughter was transfixed - to the point where she wasn't bothered about actually talking to anyone once the call was set up, she just wanted to see the process of making the call, again and again.
I obviously lived in a bigger town, ours was 4-digits.
Strange to thing that when I was a teenager there wasn't internet, www, facebook, twitter, "proper" mobile phones (ones that weren't the size and weight of bricks with even less battery life than a modern smartphone) or indeed that much of a computer ecosystem at all (but the '64 and the Speccie were still fun).
My kids still don't believe me when I tell them that (given I basically make microchips for a living, and I'm only going grey due to aforesaid kids rather than too-advanced age).
The phone book that came with our old rotary-dial phone in the fifties included instructions on how to dial 999 by touch, so that you could do it when darkness or smoke made it impossible to see the dial*. I think you located the metal stop with your right-hand third finger, then put your second finger in the hole to the left of it (the zero), then your first in the next left hole, and you're ready to dial. Whether you'd have the sang froid to do this when the house was burning down or you were hiding in the dark from a violent intruder is another matter.
* Obviously you had to commit the instructions to memory while you could still see, but we had to make our own entertainment in those days, so learning bits of the phone book was something you might do.
Now I feel old. =( I just realized that there are young people in the workplace who did grow up without those phones. Anyway... my guess for the anticlockwise thing is that it is the most convenient way for right handed people to dial. Moving towards your right hand side, and not towards your left hand side with your right hand.
The order of the numbers around the dial has no connection with the direction of rotation of the dial itself....why should it?
In fact it the numbers went clockwise 0-9 then the 9 would be the nearest the endstop resulting in the fastest dialling for the emergency number. (which should have actually been 111 with the anticlockwise configuration)
"No 999 is slow - deliberately.
Only the first two are actually required (hence 9 for an outside line on most PBX systems).
The third provides time for the network to connect you and an operator to be on the line..."
I don't know where you heard that but it isn't true. My city has an area code "998", which would lead to a lot of false alarms with that system.
It was slow to give you time to think about what you were doing, and to avoid the situation of lots of false calls being generated with a number like 111.
In the UK, the number you dialled corresponded directly with the digit train created - zero being ten obviously. This made the jobs of exchange engineers somewhat easier - the reverse system is less intuitive (ten minus dialled number equalling digit train).
In a similar vein my dad (who worked on the railways) told me once about the system to override the locking on points or signals in some signal boxes. The process required the slow turning of a little wheel about fifty times. Not for any overriding technical reason, but to give the signalman plenty of time to think hard about exactly what he was in the process of doing.
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)!
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.
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!).
"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.
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" comment, where will all the money you have spent on telephones be in 60+ years? Down the toilet, that's where. Think about it.
 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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