Author Topic: Beep Beep Line - Talking Conference over CO Busy Signal  (Read 8445 times)

Offline Dennis Markham

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Beep Beep Line - Talking Conference over CO Busy Signal
« on: October 14, 2009, 09:28:51 PM »
Back in the mid 1960's when I was a kid growing up in northern Alabama it became common knowledge amongst school kids that the phone could be used to meet people in a strange way.  If one dialed their own telephone number a busy signal would result.  If one were to speak into the phone during the silence between the beeps of the busy signal, other people enjoying the rhythm of that signal could hear what the person said between beeps.  Before long it spread like wildfire and the busy signal was a cacophony of shouts, asking "what-is-your-name?" or "what-is-your number?"  Guys and girls were meeting, shouting phone numbers between the beeps.  The final thing that would be said was "hang up" where the boy would call the girl or vice-versa.

Years later when I moved to Michigan, still in high school I told someone about it and we tried it.   Before long the whole school was doing it.  Just as suddenly as it started, it ended.

I wrote a posting about it on my blog site.  It can be seen here.  

http://www.vintagerotaryphones.com/?p=100

Some of you may have seen it.  I got several responses from people in Minnesota that called it the Jam-Line.  There is even a sound byte that a guy sent me of an actual call he recorded back in the day.

So my question is why did this work?  What was taking place at the Central Office and what did the phone company do to stop it?  Surely there were aware of it.  It even worked from a pay phone.  One could "drop a dime" in, dial the number on the pay phone and be connected to the beep-beep line.  After hooking up with someone the user could hang up the pay phone and wait for a return call.....and even get their dime back.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 01:26:28 AM by AE_collector »

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2009, 09:34:21 PM »
I just realized that the link I provided above will take you to a second posting I made about the Beep-Beep line.  The first sentence will re-direct you to the original post.  This link however, provides the audio clip.

Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2009, 09:39:17 PM »
We had this in Portland, Oregon too, but it ended one day too.  About the same time period also.  Seems to me like we dialed a particular number that was always busy, then flashed the switch hook once, but just for the right amount of time off then back on again, then we would be in this never-never land of what seemed like hundreds of people all trying to hook up for dates with unknown girls and so forth.  We really had to yell to get heard above all the others.  But, like you described, one day we did this and suddenly it would not work any more.  Them were the good ol' days, right?

-Bill G

Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2009, 09:41:58 PM »
I just played your recording.  Yep, That's the way it was!

-Bill G

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2009, 09:45:54 PM »
Bill, maybe you or your friend may know why such a thing was able to take place.

Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2009, 09:53:40 PM »
I never did find out why, but I'll ask him.  His name is Colin Chambers, and I think he probably knows because I think he was also a phone phreak, if you know what that is.

Relating to another discussion on calling party supervision, I found out the hard way not to make prank calls to the operator, because the operator can take over supervision, as can 911 these days.  I called the operator one night doing my prank calls, and she would not give back control over the line until I got my mom or dad on the phone and gave them a Lily Tomlin-like lecture.  Needless to say, I got in trouble, and I did not use the operator any more to make prank calls to.
-Bill G

Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2009, 09:58:41 PM »
Speaking of phone phreaks, who here knows about those "blue boxes"?

-Bill
-Bill G

Offline bwanna

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2009, 10:00:07 PM »
Speaking of phone phreaks, who here knows about those "blue boxes"?

-Bill

 ??? ??? ??? ???
donna

Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2009, 10:07:13 PM »
There is more written on this than I can sumarize, but it has to do with the old way of in-band signaling using 2600 Hz and the predecessor to DTMF which was MF, or simply multifrequency signalling.

Google terms like "phone phreaks" or "Evan Doorbell" or even "Blue Box".

It was a way of hyjacking the phone system in the 60's and 70's to make free long distance calls.

-Bill
-Bill G

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2009, 11:18:21 PM »
I don't recall the details, but I think there was a famous Court case involving someone that made and sold these blue boxes.  BDM was telling me about it once.  Maybe he'll chime in here.

Offline McHeath

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2009, 11:37:43 PM »
Supposedly Steve Wozniak was a phone phreak and used his blue box to connect to the Pope once and pretended he was Henry Kissinger.  Don't know the truth of it all, but the blue boxes were real and a way to use tone sounds to take over control of the central station switching and get free toll calls. 

None of it works anymore as the system has been changed. 

Offline Brinybay

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2009, 12:38:23 AM »
There is more written on this than I can sumarize, but it has to do with the old way of in-band signaling using 2600 Hz and the predecessor to DTMF which was MF, or simply multifrequency signalling.

Google terms like "phone phreaks" or "Evan Doorbell" or even "Blue Box".

It was a way of hyjacking the phone system in the 60's and 70's to make free long distance calls.

-Bill

I remember hearing about those when Bob Cummings, the actor, was busted for using one.
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Offline Brinybay

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2009, 12:40:36 AM »
Back in the mid 1960's when I was a kid growing up in northern Alabama it became common knowledge amongst school kids that the phone could be used to meet people in a strange way.  If one dialed their own telephone number a busy signal would result.  If one were to speak into the phone during the silence between the beeps of the busy signal, other people enjoying the rhythm of that signal could hear what the person said between beeps.  Before long it spread like wildfire and the busy signal was a cacophony of shouts, asking "what-is-your-name?" or "what-is-your number?"  Guys and girls were meeting, shouting phone numbers between the beeps.  The final thing that would be said was "hang up" where the boy would call the girl or vice-versa.

I had never heard of that and I'm about the same age as you.  We amused ourselves with the "Prince Albert in a can" or "Do you have pig's feet?" phone pranks.
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Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2009, 12:54:19 AM »
Is your refrigerator running?

I also used to look people up in the phone book ar random and get their address and phone number, then call their number.  Lets say I call someone name Jane Jones at 123 Main street:

"Hello, is this Jane Jones?"
"Yes....."
"Well, Ma'am are you at 123 Main?"
".....yes,...Why do you ask???"
"Well, Ma'am, This is Howard Johnson from Johnson's Towing and Wrecking.... (Heavy faked Bronx accent)...And I can't find your house"

"Why are you looking for my house??"
"Well, Ma'am, we got this call to come and tow your car... Can you give me directions?"

Click
-Bill G

Offline bwanna

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Re: Beep Beep Line
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2009, 06:15:10 AM »
briny, i had not heard of the beepbeep line until i read about it on dennis website a while back. you & i must have been nice well-behaved children. not the type of hooligan who was  looking for ways to cause trouble & foul up the phone co. :D
donna