Talk:Party line (telephony)

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Discussion[edit]

Are people really still stuck on this shit or is that copied from some outdated standards document? Plugwash 00:19, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Yes, it is still used in some parts of the world. 201.26.64.45 22:03, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It used to be an option - you could choose party line service and save a few dollars on your phone bill every month Pendragon39 (talk) 04:55, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Hmm, should there be any mention of the "You have dialed a party on your line..." recording under Characteristics of Party lines? Or was this too rare and US centric to mention? I made a recording of the message when party lines were about to be removed from my house, so I might be able to find it and offer it up under an acceptable copyright rationale. 24.118.107.222 (talk) 18:27, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

I remember this (as two-party lines) being in all one-person student dormitory residence rooms at Queen's University until 1989. It was dropped around the same time as the buildings were wired for Internet access. A fair number of suburban houses from the 1940's and 1950's also had internal wiring in the building which consisted of three black wires twisted together; these were originally tip, ring and ground. Once these were converted to private lines, the third (ground) wire was ignored and not used.
On a two-party line with separate ringers for each, one bell went from tip to ground; on the other party on the same line the bell went from ring to ground. This worked only on the old dial telephones with the mechanical bell — the standard for private line is bell connected between tip and ring, so a modern electronic handset is a two-wire device. On the old mechanical-dial 'phones one could remove the 'phone from the plastic case and move one wire on a terminal strip to connect one side of the bell to ground, selecting a three-wire mode for party line operation. The third (ground) wire went as far as a terminal block in the basement somewhere, then was wired to a water pipe or a ground rod as the actual outside line has two wires (tip and ring) only.
Apparently some of the university kids realised (before the school got rid of these dinosaurs) that if one disconnected everything but whichever two wires went to the bell (ie: phone had tip and no ring, or vice-versa, depending which party) the telephone would ring when called but there was no way for the victim to actually answer the call.
These were still in use in some existing rural installations in the 1990's but any call placed from such a line had no caller-ID (just "unknown name, unknown number, out of area") as the system relied on some utterly obsolete mechanical switchgear to work at all. Any switch new enough to send caller-ID is digital and therefore too new to support true party-line operation. Distinctive ring was a variant which is supported on new switchgear, but it is missing two key capabilities: the ability to handle separate 'phone bills for each party and the ability to call the other party on the same line by dialling a special number (typically 4101 or one's own number), waiting a second or two, then hanging up before the 'busy' tone came on the line. 66.102.83.61 (talk) 06:20, 3 April 2012 (UTC)