TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: "All the President's Men" (Still More Movie Phone Trivial)

Re: "All the President's Men" (Still More Movie Phone Trivial)

T (
Wed, 20 Jun 2007 20:07:36 -0400

In article <>,

> wrote:

>> On Jun 19, 9:25 am, Sam Spade <> wrote:

>>> Washington, DC had quite a few ESS offices when Watergate happened,
>>> which is a different environment than "Wrong Number" or "Dial M for
>>> Murder." ;-)

>> "Quite a few"? In 1973-74 ESS was still relatively new as a
>> production item. I dare say that within a city most would be served
>> by panel or #1 XBAR, maybe a few exchanges with ESS. Anyway, in
>> 1973-74 I think most subscribers still had plain vanilla dial
>> telephone service. In affluent neighborhoods, many people might have
>> Touch Tone.

> Yes, quite a few. The first #1 ESS deployment was, as I recall, in
> 1967. It started off slow, but DC became the first place to experience
> a major deployment, for obvious reasons. ;-)

> The public wouldn't have known about it because calling features weren't
> promoted much, and not at all in some areas, until 1975, or so.
> Touchtone was available on No 5 XBAR in most of those areas in the the
> late 1960s.

> The AT&T network policy makers deliberately held back on offering
> calling features in the POTS environment for a number of reasons. But,
> Centrex government customers in DC were offered the full array as soon
> as the cuts were complete.

>> My impressions of newspaper telephone service and hardware was based
>> on visits to a major city paper of that time.

>>> But, typewriters had come a long way, with correcting Selectrics. ;-)

>> I'm not sure when correcting Selectrics came out, but I think it was
>> after '74. In any event, they were a premium expensive model,
>> probably more found with executive secretaries than with junior
>> reporters. In those years, the secretary to a manager had a nice
>> electric typewriter, but those using a typewriter for routine work (ie
>> bank clerk or librarian) had manuals. (Remington and Underwood both
>> made very nice manuals in that time frame.) By 1980 things would be
>> very different, but it was a slow transition. Typewriters were rather
>> expensive.

> Here is a ad featuring a Correcting Selectric II in 1973.


> I know, as I bought one then. ;-) The first Selectric came out in 1961.

> Reporters may not have had Correcting Selectrics in 1973 but all the
> bosses secretaries, including the White House I suspect, got them really
> quick.

>>> When Watergate happened, the only mobile phones were those giant
>>> bricks mounted in the car, and which transmitted and received in the
>>> open on VHF low, where every sharp kid with a scanner could hear the
>>> conversation with ease. ;-)

>> There were only a few frequencies available and a huge waiting list
>> for mobile service despite the high cost. But in those days, when
>> more people were in a city, payphones were everywhere. Lobbies of
>> office buildings had banks of them (nice ones with a tiny chair,
>> table, fan, light, and closed door). Often every floor of a
>> commercial building had one too, in addition to the lobby bank.

>> For some reason I don't know, when Bell and Motorola applied to test
>> new cell service, the FCC sat on it for two years.

> I'd have to look through my old BSTJ's but I recall the AMPS tests
> being conducted in New Jersey in the late 1970s. Chicago was the
> first launch of AMPS in 1983.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Do you recall one difference between
> the way 'call forwarding' was originally set up and later on? People
> could 'chain call-forward', that is, you forward yours to me; I then
> forwarded mine to some other party; they forwarded theirs onward, etc.
> Let's call them parties 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D'. People realized they
> could forward infinitly if they had enough co-conspirators to help
> them, and make a (considerable) long distance call for the price of
> a local call. The next generic of 'call forwarding' did not allow
> that. Yes, A could forward to B and B could forward to C, etc, but
> calls directed to A _stopped_ when they reached B. Calls directed to
> B _stopped_ when they reached C. Officially the theory was that
> persons calling A only wanted to talk to A. For A's convenience, his
> calls could be forwarded to B, but party A did not want to be
> forwarded onward to C or D. Or, so said telco. And originally, if A
> forwarded to B and contemporaneously B forwarded to A, it would start
> an endless loop until eventually all circuits in the CO were tied up.
> Telco quickly put a stop to that also. But that 'chain forwarding' was
> foolish anyway; people could rarely -- if ever -- make a series of
> short distance calls for less expense than a single long distance
> call. PAT]

I remember proving the ridiculousness of RI's toll boundaries by doing
just what you mention.

If you lived in an area served by the Pawtucket rate center, you could
only call as far as Providence to the south.

The thing was, one of RI's more popular BBS's was in East Greenwich.

So I setup a line in the house that had call forwarding to the EG
phone numbers. I got use of the phone line and it would just forward
calls like crazy.

I love thinking how much I had to have cost then NYNEX in toll

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I had a similar thing going on in
Chicago for all of three or four days, back in 1973, right after
Illinois Bell started 'Call Forwarding'. Calls within the city itself
were only one untimed unit. Calls to/from the suburbs were two or more
units on a timed basis. This sometimes led to the situation where
Chicago was on one side of the street and some suburb was across the
street i.e. Chicago and Evanston, so those calls cost more. If you
lived 'all the way out' in Joliet (815 area) for example, typically
it cost 6 units for three minutes of talking if you wanted to call
Chicago. But, if we wished, we could purchase an 'unlimited metro
line' (much more money but no regard for the units used on the calls).

I had my recorded telephone news/advertising telephone lines operating
in Chicago. I had various users in the Joliet area calling me each day
on my Chicago number. Now, I had a couple of 'Enterprise' numbers for
my Indiana and Wisconsin callers, but I thought of a smart way to
handle the Chicago west/south suburban calls to cost them less money.
My friend who lived in Joliet offered to get a second phone line for
his home; it would be an 'umlimited metro area' line. He would leave
_that line_ on permanent call forwarding to my Chicago number and he
would make his outgoing calls on that line, while using his existing
phone (with a very tiny unit allotment) for all his incoming calls.
He disconnected the bell on the new line so he did not get disturbed
by the ringing. There were a couple times when there were _two_ calls
at one via his phone line in Joliet to my service in Chicago (at six
units minimum each had they not been on the unlimited metro line) all
the while he was on the phone with an outgoing call to Zion, Illinois
(as extremely far north as Joliet was south, also an eight unit call.)
That line was unlimited, right?

Not quite _that_ unlimited, said Miss Prissy, the service rep when she
caught us by trying to call him on his new unlimited unit phone line
one day. You cannot have two phones in the same house, one unlimited
calling and one with a tiny, 'regular' package of units, she warned.
Furthermore, she noted, the 'company' finds it very questionable when
you leave your umlimited metro line call forwarded 24/7 to a business
place in Chicago. No excuses were satisfactory. He told her that many
times when he was at home, friends of his in Zion would call him and
they were interested in what I had to say that day, so he would 'three
way call' so they both could listen to me at the same time. So what
was the problem when 'he went away to Chicago for the day to visit me'
if he simply left his phone on call forwarding 'while he was gone for
the day.' Miss Prissy said she didn't believe a word of it. Then she
called and gave me hell for it also, particularly after she checked
with her cohorts in downtown Chicago and learned about the extreme
volume of inbound calls I was receiving to my taped messages on
HARrison-7-1234 (six or eight _thousand_ calls arrived each day on
about a dozen heavy duty answering machines which were wired in
rotary hunt behind 427-1234, and there were a few times each day that
all the lines would still be busy. Miss Prissy was shocked when she
examined my call volume stats and made my friend disconnect his
'unlimited metro line', since a couple hundred calls each day were
in fact coming via the Joliet line.

But it was Bell's own fault; had the geographic arrangement of 'units'
been more fairly allotted (as they were starting in the middle eighties)
it would not have been very cost-effective for my friend and I. PAT]

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