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Fishtailed
7th Mar 2015, 23:44
Nothing illeagal, like nowadays, (well it probably was), no, it really was. Who remembers free phone calls from coin boxes in the sixties by tapping.:O:O

Loose rivets
8th Mar 2015, 00:07
There was a blind guy in the States who could whistle the dual tone needed for calls. He was caught. I bet he didn't see that coming. :uhoh:

The phone company was really nice about it. Let him off, but told him enough was enough.


When working from LHR, I found that by dialing 6 on the phone in my flat* I would interrupt random existing conversations. Great fun, but one day I heard a really pompous bloke wading mercilessly into the operator. In a moment of word-perfect acting I said, "This is the GPO Investigation Department. Bla Bla Bla And if you're caught behaving like this again you will be cut off."

The man made several bewildered noises before falling silent. The lassie never said a word, but I bet she had a lot to say to her colleagues - who probably didn't believe her.

*Near Kensington High street. 4 pounds 10 shillings a week.

handsfree
8th Mar 2015, 09:11
With the old A B button public call phones in the UK you could simulate coins being put into the phone by sucking on the mouth piece to alter the resistance on the line.
There's desperate and there's desperate. :\

mixture
8th Mar 2015, 09:14
Did I just read

public call phones

and

sucking on the mouth piece

in the same phrase ? :yuk:

P6 Driver
8th Mar 2015, 09:41
Everybody has hobbies...

Capot
8th Mar 2015, 14:58
For the uninitiated, in the olden days tapping the rest in a coin-operated public phone to dial a number for a free call was a knack that was easy to acquire; it was just a matter of maintaining approximately the same rhythm that the dialler would have maintained on its slow way back round the dial.

But memory fades, it must have been after STD came into operation, otherwise what would have been the point? Is that so?

Cpt_Pugwash
8th Mar 2015, 15:08
I once worked with a chap who had a visit from the GPO after stumbling upon and using the engineers network underlying the public network.
I think it used a 4 numeral access code which gave a 'number unobtainable' which would cause most people to hang-up, but if you continued dialling (dial-through) the call would be connected toll-free on the private network.

Even worked for overseas calls, but after an official visit, he was told to desist. I think no action was taken as it may have attracted unwanted press attention.

Anyone remember the different 4 digit code which gave an unobtainable tone, which when the handset was replaced, generated an incoming call to check the line to the exchange?

cockney steve
8th Mar 2015, 15:53
The delay was simply a product if the time needed to move a "tree" full of contacts up/down a row of fixed contacts (pulses you heard) and then rotated the correct number of contacts around the correct fixed-layer
Apart from being extremely slow and noisy, all these contacts wiping across each other, generated significant quantities of metal-dust, which somebody was paid to sweep-up....also people were paid to replace worn-out contacts, all day, every day!

there is a large building , like a block of ~50 flats, occupying a large roundabout on the Ashton-under lyne bypass In days of yore, the entire multi-storey building was filled with the aforesaid Strowger switchgear (the telephone exchange)..... nowadays, a load of microchips in one room does all that and i'm told the rest of the building is either empty or occupied by 3 rd party internet stuff.
When digital phones came in, they had to design a circuit to slow down the signal slow enough for the strowger gear to keep up .

how much we take for granted nowadays !....

STD (subscriber Trunk Dialling) opened the door to "tapping" the handset -rest...It never occurred to me to swindle the GPO., but I never heard of sucking on the handset, before!
IIRC, one could source a set of miniature "pan-pipes" from certain fringe "shops" to fool the later tone-dialling system.

Engineers had a 2-digit line-test number. a jolly jape was to pick up someone's handset , dial the digits and replace the handset...a few moments later, the telephone would ring-out....of course, there was nobody on the other end.

vulcanised
8th Mar 2015, 15:59
I still have a box full of Uniselectors in my loft.

Checkboard
8th Mar 2015, 16:03
Tapping is listening to other's conversations.

You guys are talking about Phreaking :)

The History of Phone Phreaking -- FAQ (http://www.historyofphonephreaking.org/faq.php)

dazdaz1
8th Mar 2015, 16:33
Back in the 70s if one dialled 100 then told the operator your a technical officer on detachment (working away from home) and giving the desired phone number, one was put through. T/O were entitled to free calls when working away from home.

Never tried this myself.:E

Groundgripper
8th Mar 2015, 21:05
Anyone remember the different 4 digit code

Now replaced by a 5 figure code which gives access to a number of engineering facilities and which, of course, I can't remember.

Unless I try very hard

GG

mixture
8th Mar 2015, 21:34
Now replaced by a 5 figure code which gives access to a number of engineering facilities and which, of course, I can't remember.

Yes, although the number of features has been cut-down over recent years, so its a less useful tool than it used to be.

India Four Two
8th Mar 2015, 22:04
Way before Apple, Steve Jobs used to sell Blue Boxes designed and built by Steve Wozniak.

Ascend Charlie
8th Mar 2015, 23:31
Yeah, I used to tap away, but when accessing a number like 098- something, it was possible to get confused about the 10 taps for 0 and then 9 and then 8 and then the cradle stuck down and missed a tap.....

We also had a coin phone which had a 5-cent coin stuck in the slot and allowed free calls to anywhere. Us little cadets 2000 miles from our girlfriends would be queued up till midnight to talk to them. But one idiot jiggled the box, the coin fell through, and he called the PMG to complain that the free phone wasn't free any more!

Hydromet
8th Mar 2015, 23:35
Was approaching a public phone years ago, when it rang. Girl nearby said 'That'll be for me.', answered it and carried on a conversation.
Found out later that from some countries, you could make a reverse charge call giving the number of the public telephone if you knew it, at a pre-arranged time. When the other person answered, they would accept the charges and your call would be put through.

Fishtailed
9th Mar 2015, 00:03
in the olden days tapping the rest in a coin-operated public phone to dial a number for a free call

That's it. No problem with low numers but get over six and you had to tap smartly to get it in before the dial retuned to rest. We had lots of fun in phone boxes then as they had directories in those day and you could find odd names to ring with odd results for free:O:

Molemot
9th Mar 2015, 21:26
Back in the Second World War, the GPO telphone system had a sort of early trunk dialling system. You had to know the codes to get the call from exchange to exchange by dialling a series of numbers. Once the war was over, this was all taken away.
Supposedly.
However...one vestige still remained; this was in the Putney telephone exchange, on the 88 level. What you did was dial PUT 88 from an STD coinbox (or a private phone) and then wait....and a dial tone would be heard. You could then dial any STD number you wished, and it would go through....once it was answered, if you were in an STD coinbox, the pips would sound and you put your money in...but were only charged for a local call!!! This worked from all over the country, dial the code for London and then PUT88 and away you went. Used it many times from Linton on Ouse to phone home in the early 70s... all gone, now!!

gemma10
9th Mar 2015, 22:56
I did my apprenticeship in the sixties with GEC in Coventry [anyone remember Helen St] and one christmas built a multi uniselector driven 50v christmas tree light circuit. The noise was deafening but the effect illuminating! clunk clunk clunk clunk zzzzzzzzzz clunk clunk etc etc. Mother said we cant have that racket going on so I wrapped it all in a blanket and stuck it all in the brass coal box. Amplification was horrendous.What must have the noise been like in the telephone exchanges and were the engineers wearing ear mufflers in those days. Probably all got tinnitus today!

Smeagol
9th Mar 2015, 23:38
The old pre-STD coin boxes (4 old pennies and press buttton A) could be fiddled some 56 different ways.
One of the easiest was, as mentioned by others, tapping on the rest the numbers required. This worked but could easily be heard by anyone in the automatic exchange as it caused the uniselectors to "chunter" around rather than "zip", very recognizable I'm told.
There was a way that could work by inserting the requisite 4 pennies, dialing the number and when it was answered instead of pressing button A to connect (and pay with the 4d), just shout up the money return chute.
The foolproof method was 'back dialing', pulling the dial around to the full extent and allowing it to run out the required number of holes, repeat for each digit. A cork of appropriate size was useful.

How do I know all this? An elder brother who was a telephone technician!

G-CPTN
10th Mar 2015, 00:17
I recall back-dialling.

Fishtailed
10th Mar 2015, 00:43
tapping on the rest the numbers required. This worked but could easily be heard by anyone in the automatic exchange

Easily heard by anyone outside the box also so a lookout was needed for passing adults.

Loose rivets
10th Mar 2015, 01:02
I've told it before, but true it is, I was calling a girlfriend in London and asked the operator for the number. She hesitated and then said, 'Is that Rob?' I suppressed my gasp. I was going out with her at the time.

finfly1
10th Mar 2015, 01:10
Fellow in the states discovered that plucking a banjo string just so would successfully imitate the sound of a quarter dropping into the phone box.

Stanwell
10th Mar 2015, 03:47
We had those A/B boxes here in OZ, too.
When the dialled number answered, a smart thump to the right-side of the box would generally get you through. :E

Avtrician
10th Mar 2015, 12:05
There was one of those boxes near a certain RAAF Base in NSW, where by flicking a 5cent piece down the coin slot a free STD call could be made. the coin came back cos it was too small for the machine to take.

There used to be a que of single RAAFies waiting to call home. Never did find another box that worked like that one. (Not that I ever did such a thing of course)

Showed my Mum the trick of flicking the button on top of the home phone, by calling Grandma, Mum didnt believe it could be done:suspect:

Keef
10th Mar 2015, 17:44
I once worked with a chap who had a visit from the GPO after stumbling upon and using the engineers network underlying the public network.
I think it used a 4 numeral access code which gave a 'number unobtainable' which would cause most people to hang-up, but if you continued dialling (dial-through) the call would be connected toll-free on the private network.

It wasn't always a 4-digit code, and it didn't always give the "unobtainable tone". But that was a very long time ago.