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)

Steven Lichter (
Fri, 22 Jun 2007 21:56:03 GMT wrote:

>> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note:

>> Then Ameritech took over. One of the first things they did was
>> announce _no more call packs_, ...

> Around the time of divesture it was said the telephone rates would be
> restructured to match cost against usage. Thus we saw new charges for
> 411, operator assistance, wire repair, etc.

> At that time they also predicted the end of flat rate service on the
> grounds that some people used it very extensively while others used it
> sparingly. In the 1980s the telephone was used more than ever, along
> with businesses operating from home and home computers. As you noted,
> some places did eliminate flat rate plans. As a big phone talker, I
> was concerned.

> But the explosion in technology -- cheaper switches and line terminal
> eqiupment, fibre optic lines -- made it possible to hold the line on
> some rates and eventually offer national unlimited. Admittedly, my
> national unlimited is only a few dollars more than metro unlimited.

> Undoubtedly the phone company was concerned with the use of computers
> on voice lines and the heavy usage of equipment. But many people with
> computers got second or third phone lines just for the computer, which
> offset the cost. Now of course people are shifting to dedicated lines
> like DSL. (What happened to ISDN?) Verizon is pushing FIOS like
> crazy even though they holding back installing it in apt complexes.

> In any event, in thinking about the movie, so much has changed in
> telecommunications. Think about how Woodward and Bernstein would've
> done things differently with cell phones, fax, and the internet, as
> well as Deep Throat and the efforts to identify Deep Throat. Indeed,
> just by 1980 (six years) things had changed a lot.

> From a _technological_ point of view, I never understood Watergate.
> (Let's leave politics and Nixon out of this). The Watergate scandal
> wasn't about the Watergate Apt breakin, it was about numerous other
> wiretaps that were "illegal" and then the effort to cover them up.
> But if Nixon's people wanted to wiretap, why didn't they just ask the
> friendly compliant phone company to do so under "national security"?
> AFAIK, the phoneco cooperated with such requests and didn't ask
> questions. Indeed at that very time the phoneco was working with the
> Justice Dept to help track down Blue Box users.

> Or, by that time, the technology existed to just add a recorder
> external to the drop line on the outside of a building and no one
> would know about it.

Years ago before the breakup I had PacBell make noise about my BBS
running on a -- as they put it -- a voice line. There was nothing in the
tariff they said you could or could not have it, and I pointed that
out to them. I also pointed out that they made money on the LD and
toll calls coming in to the BBS, they still said they would cut me off;
they never did, maybe it was a copy of a letter I sent to the PUC or
maybe they figured out I was not going to let it die, I also worked
for GTE and had talked to the people in our Tariff Department, they
got a good laugh on what I was told, but I also heard they did the
same thing to people using computers on their lines.

The Only Good Spammer is a Dead one!! Have you hunted one down today?
(c) 2007 I Kill Spammers, Inc. A Rot In Hell Co.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: In 1974-75, when I had the hassle with
Illinois Bell about the way *I* chose to route incoming calls to my
telephone news line (Gay News and Events, 312-427-1234 and many other
lines in rotary hunt) and pulling in the 815 Joliet number I suggested
to Miss Prissy that given my druthers, _if_ there was a choice in the
way incoming calls were terminated -- and there were no choices in
1974 -- I would yank the calls away from IBT in a heartbeat. Miss
Prissy just laughed and laughed, and said such an idea was
'ridiculous'. Of course, within about two years or so, AT&T was moving
fast on 900-style calls and exhibiting a perfect willingness to hijack
all inbound traffic to a 'popular' number (mainly 900 was used for sex
and horoscopes in those days), route the calls over a T-1 circuit and
terminate the calls on their own switches AND share the profits with
the proprietors of the audio services. My number were not 'popular' in
the usual sense of the word, but mainly just gay news items and coming

From the beginning of my service, in September, 1972, Illinois Bell
had shown much curiosity about it. They said I was the first person to
ever use a recorded message for anything other than 'Dial a Prayer' or
a Weather Forecast message, and never that many machines, in that
quantity. I used entirely IBT equipment to do it; a dozen or so of the
old-style heavy duty (and the machines were _quite_ heavy) machines
they mainly used for 'intercept' service, i.e. 'your call cannot be
completed as dialed' messages. A master machine, with the rest being
'slaves', so that each morning when I was ready to record a new
message for that day, I did not have to do it a dozen times, one for
each line; I simply flipped a 'busy-out' switch they had installed for
me; lines not in use at that moment went busy; I then waited a couple
of minutes until those lines playing at that time of day had all
finished their outplay and the callers disconnected then all the lines
in use went busy. I had a bunch of six button, (five lines plus hold)
phones without dials on them, and all of them incoming calls only) for
use in recording the new messages. But I only had to use the one
phone, the 'master' to record the new message, which populated itself
to all the 'slaves' as it was being recorded. After all, I did this
seven days per week, usually at 9:00 AM each day.

After about ten minutes (recording lasted three minutes, plus maybe
one or two re-records to get it sounding right and time spent clearing
out the calls in progress) then I just flipped the 'busy out' switch
back to the normal position and let telco take over again. There was
also a bank of meters in a little box on the table, one for each line
and another total cumulative meter and a final one for 'times all
busy'. On that final meter, telco pulsed it once each time they
otherwise gave a busy signal to callers. There were several bee-hive
lamps on the wall, which would illuminate steadily when a given line
was in use, and would flash briefly with a ringing line before
lighting steadily once the recording machine had latched on to the
call. A red-colored bee-hive lamp only lighted when all the lines were
busy. Any vacant line turned it off. The recording machines were
CPC-controlled, which Bell told me meant that the machine would
disconnect and automatically recycle to the beginning if the caller
hung up in the middle of a message. That's how I was able to get five
or six thousand calls per day on 'only' a dozen lines; not everyone
listened every time to the full three minute message, and when the
caller terminated, often times the line was instantly seized again for
another call. The recordings went onto mylar drums in each machine. A
call arrived, there'd be a 'kurchunk' sound as the machine 'shifted
its gears' and a 'finger' dropped onto the recording drum and slid
across the mylar tape drum and start the message.

At the end of the message which ran almost exactly two minutes and 55
seconds, something in the machine pushed the finger out of the way and
disconnected the call, if the caller had not hung up on his/her own by
that time. The machine was then instantly available for another call,
either because CPC 'told' the machine no one was connected any longer
or because the machine had played it out and hung up on its own.
Often times there was another seizure almost instantly.

Bell confidentially told me they had written up a special tariff for
me and the machines (which were their property anyway; not my speech,
just their machines and telephones); tariff was entitled 'special
customer requirements not otherwise covered by existing tariff'. I
got three or four calls from *executives* at IBT who were looking for
an excuse to come look at the arrangement; always they claimed that
some visiting bigwig from another telco was in town and they wanted to
show it to them.

In addition to the dozen incoming lines (all of them one-way incoming)
based on 427-1234 and hunt lines, other special features I had on it
were two Enterprise numbers (ENT for intrastate automatic collect and
ENV for interstate, other telco automatic collect as they explained to
me how to read the bill), and some of my regular advertisers ordered
a special 'Gay News and Events Direct Line' which was a red, non-dial
phone with an autodialer in a little box mounted on the wall in thier
premises. If one of their patrons wanted to listen to my messages, all
they had to do was lift the receiver of the red telephone which
autodialed 427-1234 and began playing me. The auto-dialers were set as
fast as they would go, so that often times the line was ringing me by
the time the person got the phone to his ear. The 'phone room' was
quite noisy, to say the least, with all the 'kerchunking' sounds
randomly from the various 'slave machines' as they would pick up the
lines, start talking, and disconnect. In the room next door (I had a
two room suite in the Fisher Building, at 343 South Dearborn Street,
downtown Chicago) was my office and my own private phone,
WEbster-9-4600. Everyone ('private direct lines' and 'Enterprise
numbers' and 'regular' callers) were directed to the 427-1234 number;
they took their chances on which line they actually arrived on, of
course. The owners of the red, non-dial autodialer phones paid the
bill on those phones themselves; one such customer was 'Mans Country'
and another one was called 'Gold Coast'. The red autodial phones also
came from Illinois Bell. No wonder, I suppose, that executives from
Bell were quite interested in seeing the whole thing in operation.

Those 'answering machines' were real workhorses. Never once failed,
and of course no messy tapes to replace or rewind, etc. PAT]

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