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)
Mon, 25 Jun 2007 11:40:06 -0700

TELECOM Digest Editor noted in response to Lisa Hancock's comments:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note:
> Well, Lisa, perhaps _your_ Bell telco
> was loose about multiple phones and classes of service in the same
> residence, but _my_ Bell telco (Illinois Bell) was not.

As mentioned, telephone rate structures and marketing practices varied
significantly from place to place. The Bell System took great pride
in being "standardized", but that seems to be more technically than
administratively. I suspect some practices were actually inherited
from the very early days of service.

> And regards illigitimate extension phones you bootlegged and installed
> on your own, Illinois Bell was not very happy about those either. We
> had people who would insist that 'Bell could not tell the difference'
> as long as you kept all the ringers disconnected except for the one
> (phone you were paying for) and you did not unneccessarily tamper with
> any of the phones and you disconnected and took away the bootlegged
> phone(s) whenever you had a reason to call repair service. PAT]

That was basically correct, _IF_ you remembered to disconnect the
bootleg phone _and_ hide all evidence of its wiring. Many people

As to disconnecting the ringer ... Bell supposedly would test the
resistance on your line and be able to tell if you had more than
authorized sets on it from the ringers' load. Bell Labs Record
journal announced an automated machine that would test all CO lines to
search that out. How much they bothered to do that in practice I
don't know. I know of people who got caught per above wiring mess-up,
but not by extra ringers.

The problem with such phones was that a lot of people had no idea what
they were doing, even though phone wiring is pretty simple. Sometimes
you needed to hook up the yellow (third) wire. Party lines could be
tricky. Sometimes the bootleg phones were junk.

While Bell hated the bootleg extensions, I don't know if they ever
carried through with their threats to cut off service. Maybe if
someone repeatedly refused to cooperate, as some people would
purposely do, they'd cut off service.

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