PDA

View Full Version : Can you still attach a rotary dial phone to telephone company lines?


astro
07-07-2008, 11:23 PM
Years ago pulse (rotary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotary_dial)) and tone(dial pad) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual-tone_multi-frequency)phone would work on the same telephone company circuits, Is this still true? Do telephone company lines still support pulse dialing phones in 2008?

Tamex
07-07-2008, 11:53 PM
Yes, they do.

friedo
07-08-2008, 12:00 AM
All the fancy modern digital switches on the POTS network still support pulse dialing. I believe it's even an FCC requirement. If you've got a touch-tone with a mechanical switchhook, you can still pulse-dial by hitting the switch rapidly in succession. (E.g. to dial a five, hit the switch five times rapidly, then wait a little bit. Zero is ten pulses.) Try it out.

Hail Ants
07-08-2008, 12:06 AM
A friend of mine loves antiques. She did her whole kitchen this way, so I got her a genuine antique telephone for Christmas. Kind with the mouthpiece mounted on the box on the wall, with the earpiece separate hung up on the side. Was literally 100 years old. Had capacitors and various circuits inside it. Plugged it in and called it, rang, picked it up, worked fine!

Tamex
07-08-2008, 12:11 AM
You can also go really old-fashioned and have the operator dial the number for you. People who are blind or have other handicaps that would make it difficult to dial a phone can sign up with the phone company to have their calls dialed for no additional charge--otherwise it costs you these days.

07-08-2008, 02:18 AM
The dial phone in my kitchen (installed 1972) still works fine.

postcards
07-08-2008, 08:56 AM
Mine works fine, too. A standard black desk model, I got it in 1984, found stickers inside that indicated it was manufactured in 1963, so it was rewired to accommodate a modular jack before I bought it.

elmwood
07-08-2008, 08:58 AM
At work, I attached a 1930-ish rotary phone to one of the digital system lines. Still was able to dial out and receive calls.

A friend of mine loves antiques. She did her whole kitchen this way, so I got her a genuine antique telephone for Christmas. Kind with the mouthpiece mounted on the box on the wall, with the earpiece separate hung up on the side. Was literally 100 years old. Had capacitors and various circuits inside it. Plugged it in and called it, rang, picked it up, worked fine!

Amazing! I always wondered about that. However, could you crank it up and get an operator?

Qadgop the Mercotan
07-08-2008, 09:00 AM
I've a working rotary phone I wired into my home's phone system myself.

Leaffan
07-08-2008, 09:08 AM
They better still work, otherwise why am I paying a separate charge for "touch tone service?"

Seriously, my Bell Canada land line account still has a separate charge of, I don't know a couple of bucks a month maybe, for "touch tone service."

Fuckwads.

Philster
07-08-2008, 09:16 AM
I believe federal law in the U.S. gives one the right to use a rotary phone. I know at least several companies are obligated by federal law to be able to accept calls from rotary phones and have their phone systems setup to deal with the callers who don't have touch tone (DTMF) service.

Whiteknight
07-08-2008, 09:46 AM
The dial phone in my kitchen (installed 1972) still works fine.
Dad, is that you?

gotpasswords
07-08-2008, 10:17 AM
At work, I attached a 1930-ish rotary phone to one of the digital system lines. Still was able to dial out and receive calls.



Amazing! I always wondered about that. However, could you crank it up and get an operator?
I've got a wood wall phone, and while I can crank it to ring its own bell, there's nothing at the phone company's end to sense and respond to my cranking.

If you had a dial phone, you were on an automatic exchange with no operators standing by ready to say "Number, please!" when you wanted to place a call.

Bryan Ekers
07-08-2008, 11:03 AM
Amazing! I always wondered about that. However, could you crank it up and get an operator?

The phone company, I've heard, takes a dim view of users injecting their own alternating current on the line. To get the operator's attention, you're better off repeatedly and rapidly lifting and dropping the hook.

Raza
07-08-2008, 11:57 AM
The dial phone in my kitchen (installed 1972) still works fine.
Dad, is that you?
Funny, I was thinking the same thing! My father still has the same phone number from 1958; he had an old wall-mounted dial phone in the kitchen at least until the late 80's, if not longer.

Tamex
07-08-2008, 04:53 PM
They better still work, otherwise why am I paying a separate charge for "touch tone service?"

Seriously, my Bell Canada land line account still has a separate charge of, I don't know a couple of bucks a month maybe, for "touch tone service."

Fuckwads.

IIRC, they got rid of that in the US a few years ago.

Tamex
07-08-2008, 05:10 PM
The phone company, I've heard, takes a dim view of users injecting their own alternating current on the line. To get the operator's attention, you're better off repeatedly and rapidly lifting and dropping the hook.

Yes, if you make ten pulses with the hook, it would be like dialing "0".

I was an operator until 2005, and while I don't think anyone used a phone quite that old, there were quite a few people who still used rotary phones. Often, they would be elderly, and they would call us because they were having trouble getting through on some company's touch tone menu. We couldn't be much help, though, because our equipment didn't make touch tones, either.

Sometimes, the person insisted they did have a touch tone phone. Many phones (especially back in the days when you had to pay extra for touch-tone service, which is apparently still the case in Canada) have a switch on them which allows the buttons to either send the tones for touch-tone or pulses (they sound like clicks) like a rotary dial. These people had their phones set to "pulse", which works fine for making calls, but terrible for automated menus.

wolf_meister
07-09-2008, 01:07 AM
My brother bought one of those "antique" phones that others have described - crank on the side, mouthpiece mounted on the front. However, I called it "antique" because it just looked as such and definitely did not work like the genuine ones on "Lassie" when Timmy fell down the well. The real killer of its having any antique flair was the "rotary dial" which was actually a circular touch tone keypad. I was able to find an old rotary dial which I substituted for the electronic one. Still I managed to wire in the modern keypad in an enclosed drawer type section of the phone.

Yes, my story actually has a point. I found it interesting that it is possible to dial part of a number, then use the keypad, and go back to the rotary dial and so on. Oh, and it really makes the call after you've done all that alternating back and forth.

Magiver
07-09-2008, 02:13 AM
Remember the good old days when you could dial your own number,hang up, and the phone would ring?

Princhester
07-09-2008, 02:41 AM
When I was a kid we knew a particular number that if you dialled it and hung up, your phone would ring a few seconds later. The usual rumour was that it was suppposed to be used by phone technicians to see if a phone repair had worked. It was also taken as read that if anyone from the Phone Company had caught us kids using it we'd be in Big Trouble. It was a very very secret number. The number was mfrl grphle mmblbe...

2nd Law
07-09-2008, 03:52 AM
When I was a kid we knew a particular number that if you dialled it and hung up, your phone would ring a few seconds later. The usual rumour was that it was suppposed to be used by phone technicians to see if a phone repair had worked. It was also taken as read that if anyone from the Phone Company had caught us kids using it we'd be in Big Trouble. It was a very very secret number. The number was mfrl grphle mmblbe...


Ringback numbers (http://tech-faq.com/ringback-number.shtml)

BMalion
07-09-2008, 07:11 AM
When I was a kid we knew a particular number that if you dialled it and hung up, your phone would ring a few seconds later. The usual rumour was that it was suppposed to be used by phone technicians to see if a phone repair had worked. It was also taken as read that if anyone from the Phone Company had caught us kids using it we'd be in Big Trouble. It was a very very secret number. The number was mfrl grphle mmblbe...


"Do you have Prince Albert in a can?"

Kevbo
07-09-2008, 01:51 PM
Yup.

Once, I walked across the carpet and picked up the phone to dial a number. As I touched the first button, a spark flew from my finger tip. That entire column of numbers (2,5,8,0) never worked agian. So after that I had to dial numbers by clicking the switch hook for those digits. Zeros were a bitch, and it was not too uncommon for me to mis-dial. I finally got a new phone when Kevbabe started spending time at my house, and I got tired of dialing for her every time she needed to make a call.

Cisco
07-09-2008, 04:47 PM
Remember the good old days when you could dial your own number,hang up, and the phone would ring?
What was so good about those days? My parents would do that all the time from their bedroom.

me: hello?
them: bring us coffee.

gigi
07-09-2008, 05:03 PM
The dial phone in my kitchen (installed 1972) still works fine.Yep, we had that one black wall phone in the kitchen. You'd be in the attic or even upstairs and hear it start ringing and you'd have to take off running to get there in time. Folks with new-fangled multiple telephones might only let it ring four times, thinking that meant you weren't home. :smack:

Sad to think it must have gotten updated by the new owners.

Jinx
07-10-2008, 06:15 AM
I'm surprised no one mentioned two things:
a) The telephone companies, perhaps under FCC guidelines, have had to support "POTS" or plain old telephone service.
b) Recently, there was an announcement that the FCC (as I recall) is passing a regulation that phone cos. will no longer have to support analog (rotary or pulse dialing) thereby rendering these rotary phones useless. Did anyone else hear that? I am not sure of the cut-off date, but I'm sure we'll hear more when the date approaches. It may 2010.
- Jinx

astro
07-10-2008, 08:29 AM
I'm surprised no one mentioned two things:
a) The telephone companies, perhaps under FCC guidelines, have had to support "POTS" or plain old telephone service.
b) Recently, there was an announcement that the FCC (as I recall) is passing a regulation that phone cos. will no longer have to support analog (rotary or pulse dialing) thereby rendering these rotary phones useless. Did anyone else hear that? I am not sure of the cut-off date, but I'm sure we'll hear more when the date approaches. It may 2010.
- Jinx

Thanks for the update. I had wondered about that. Rotary/pulse dialing is so long in the tooth at this point I can't think of any truly practical reason to support it.

mks57
07-10-2008, 01:16 PM
Thanks for the update. I had wondered about that. Rotary/pulse dialing is so long in the tooth at this point I can't think of any truly practical reason to support it.

It's useful for low-cost devices with autodialers. You don't need a DTMF encoder. It will also work on severely impaired lines.

Jake
07-10-2008, 01:32 PM
When I was a kid we knew a particular number that if you dialled it and hung up, your phone would ring a few seconds later. The usual rumour was that it was suppposed to be used by phone technicians to see if a phone repair had worked. It was also taken as read that if anyone from the Phone Company had caught us kids using it we'd be in Big Trouble. It was a very very secret number. The number was mfrl grphle mmblbe...
Yeah, I sure remember that. The number we used was 960-(Dial Tone) 6. This was 50 years ago. If they haven't changed it by now, tough darts. :)
And yes, we were afraid of the phone police and the operators coming to our house and throwing all of us in jail for being bad. Not to mention never again having a phone in our house!

gotpasswords
07-10-2008, 04:40 PM
I'm surprised no one mentioned two things:
a) The telephone companies, perhaps under FCC guidelines, have had to support "POTS" or plain old telephone service.
b) Recently, there was an announcement that the FCC (as I recall) is passing a regulation that phone cos. will no longer have to support analog (rotary or pulse dialing) thereby rendering these rotary phones useless. Did anyone else hear that? I am not sure of the cut-off date, but I'm sure we'll hear more when the date approaches. It may 2010.
- Jinx
Thankfully, there are fairly cheap devices that will interpret rotary dialing into tones.

Generally, they go for about fifty bucks, like this one (http://telsoftdirect.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=19) or this one (http://sandman.com/digit.html). (Search page for CID6K)

However, about the only thing more pervasive than televisions is telephones, and it took years to sort out the digital TV cutover. Given that telphones have life safety uses (eg: call the fire department or paramedics) and TV sets don't, I can't envision rotary dialing will go away for a long time, if ever. Plus, the telephone collectors' community would certainly be up in arms over any pending plans to disable rotary dialing.

Hail Ants
07-17-2008, 10:32 PM
I'm surprised no one mentioned two things:
a) The telephone companies, perhaps under FCC guidelines, have had to support "POTS" or plain old telephone service.
b) Recently, there was an announcement that the FCC (as I recall) is passing a regulation that phone cos. will no longer have to support analog (rotary or pulse dialing) thereby rendering these rotary phones useless. Did anyone else hear that? I am not sure of the cut-off date, but I'm sure we'll hear more when the date approaches. It may 2010.
- JinxI've heard nothing about this. You may be thinking of the cutoff for analog TV next year. Or you may be confusing it with the cutoff of analog cellular phone service. There are still millions of people in the US with POTS (plain old telephone service) so ending it would be a major thing.

I had read that the old phones with the cranks were kind of funky to use on today's lines so the antique one I bought didn't have a crank. When I gave it to her we tested it by having me call it with my then new, cutting edge Startac flip phone (this was about 10 years ago). Kinda weird using the two together!

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Best Topics: gimp meaning jeep lemon law suicide 22 rifle sneezing repeatedly lucas bible circle wire lemon colored poontang meaning surname suffix animals with clothes amazon prime dr strange ice maker without water line bathroom vent into attic why do i smell poop in my nose paint pixels to inches why is furniture so expensive why is jerky so expensive best way to heat sake get moose and squirrel can i daisy chain routers hut favorite flavor sticks ear wax can't hear shower curtain no liner required can you breathe while being waterboarded