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Why people in old films clicked their telephone cradle switch several times when they got cut off.....


FredCDobbs
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Such a thing doesn’t work today.

 

But in old films, when someone loses a phone connection or is hung up on, sometimes he or she will click their cradle switch several times and say, “Hello.... hello..... hello”, and sometimes they will say “Operator.... operator.....I got cut off.... can you get that number back?”

 

How did this work?

 

In the old days, a lot of telephone line connections were done manually, with local switchboards (in hotels, apartment houses, and neighborhoods in cities and small towns).

 

Operators worked at switchboards that had short cables with plugs on them, as many as 200 or more cables and plugs per switchboard. If a telephone didn’t have a dial on it, a person would pick it up and a friendly operator would say, “Number please?” Then the caller would give her the number and she would plug in the in-calling cable to the correct out-going numbered socket.

 

After being hung-up on, a caller could click the cradle switch several times, and the operator could hear the clicking sound. She could respond to the caller, and if he said he got cut off, the operator could plug in the right connection again and re-ring the connection if necessary.

 

I wondered about this for years until I finally saw it happen in a film, and the scene just happened to quickly cut to a hotel switchboard operator, while a guy in a hotel room was clicking his receiver switch. The operator heard the clicks and heard him say, “Hello..... hello....... hello”. The operator responded and plugged the same cable back into the same socket in the switchboard and rang the phone line that had just hung up, and the guy got connected again. This system worked for both in-coming and out-going calls, and in-coming or out-going hang-ups.

 

 

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I'm sorry if this derails the topic so soon, but these switchboards always remind me of early computer data processing machines - the way they were programmed.

 

They used the same system of individual cables which required plugging a cable (very much like a guitar line cord) into two ports on a plug-in board. Essentially, this was just a large version of our current printed circuit, using removable cables as pathways that could be rerouted to produce the desired program for the particular job you wanted your machine to do at that time.

 

My first education in computing involved learning to program with this cumbersome method. We hadn't made it to programming with software at this time and components were still quite large.

 

Here's a program sheet we used to hand draw our wire connections before we did the actual plugging in of our programming cables - a la the old time telephone switchboards. 

 

Also, some of the boards and cables required.

 

2s9rt3k.jpg

2hn9idg.jpg

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Such a thing doesn’t work today.

 

But in old films, when someone loses a phone connection or is hung up on, sometimes he or she will click their cradle switch several times and say, “Hello.... hello..... hello”, and sometimes they will say “Operator.... operator.....I got cut off.... can you get that number back?”

 

You'd also see something similar when clicking rapidly on that cradle switch would often give you a dial tone on a phone line that previously had seemed to be dead.  It felt somewhat like jumpstarting a car.

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Hey guys, thanks for the info. :)

 

A few years ago I discovered when I got an incoming recorded advertising call, if I hung up and waited four or five seconds, and if I picked the receiver up to make an outgoing call, I would still hear the advertising recording. It wouldn’t let me hang up or get a dial tone.

 

I finally tried clicking rapidly on the cradle switch, and then I got a dial tone. So that is what I do now whenever I receive an incoming recorded advertising call.

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I remember that! My experiences were before cellphones. Now, I refuse to have a land-line and am no longer harassed in this manner as my cellphone severs the connection immediately.

 

I may be imagining this, but I seem to remember seeing a film where clicking the cradle could actually call a specific number. I may be confusing this with the party line's bell cranking - or not. There's a lot of that in older films.

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I may be imagining this, but I seem to remember seeing a film where clicking the cradle could actually call a specific number. I may be confusing this with the party line's bell cranking - or not. There's a lot of that in older films.

 

Somewhere I lived, I could "dial" a number by clicking the cradle switch the same number of times and the same speed to match telephone rotary dial clicks.

 

In some towns, years ago, we might pick up our phone and hear other conversations, like in Stanwyck's SORRY WRONG NUMBER, and not any call from a "party line". Just some conversations and numbers at random.

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Somewhere I lived, I could "dial" a number by clicking the cradle switch the same number of times and the same speed to match telephone rotary dial clicks.

 

In some towns, years ago, we might pick up our phone and hear other conversations, like in Stanwyck's SORRY WRONG NUMBER, and not any call from a "party line". Just some conversations and numbers at random.

Ok.. so I wasn't imagining this. I'm relieved.

:)

I do remember hearing other conversations on "newer" phones in the mid 1960s - my mom's Princess Dial phone, to be specific. Pick it up to make a call and two other people would be conversing. This only happened twice that I can remember. I can't recall having seen this (with newer phones) in any film.

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How to Torture Your Mother, Rotary Phone Division

 

1. Know when she's about to make a phone call

 

2. Sneak into another room and pick up the extension, keeping your finger on the cradle switch.

 

3. When you hear her dialing, wait for the fourth through the seventh number, lift your finger off the cradle switch for one or two clicks as the number is dialing, then press down softly so that she can't hear it from her end.

 

4. Listen to her apologize to the other party that she "must have dialed the wrong number" with a genuinely puzzled tone of voice.

 

5. Repeat until your capacity for s a d i s m has worn thin.

 

Of course the deal is that with rotary phones, if someone on an extension lifts his finger off the cradle switch for two or three clicks, that "9" being dialed becomes a "7" or a "6".  

 

Teenage boys are pure evil. canstock19172774.jpg

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How to Torture Your Mother, Rotary Phone Division

 

1. Know when she's about to make a phone call

 

2. Sneak into another room and pick up the extension, keeping your finger on the cradle switch.

 

3. When you hear her dialing, wait for the fourth through the seventh number, lift your finger off the cradle switch for one or two clicks as the number is dialing, then press down softly so that she can't hear it from her end.

 

4. Listen to her apologize to the other party that she "must have dialed the wrong number" with a genuinely puzzled tone of voice.

 

5. Repeat until your capacity for s a d i s m has worn thin.

 

Of course the deal is that with rotary phones, if someone on an extension lifts his finger off the cradle switch for two or three clicks, that "9" being dialed becomes a "7" or a "6".  

 

Teenage boys are pure evil. canstock19172774.jpg

 

Or you can use a phone decoder such as the TM-16A Plus

 

130.thumb.jpg?osCsid=rf6tj4v5qqlpk5ijq2d

 

...or this for push button (DTMF) only

dtmf_decoder.jpg

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Or you can use a phone decoder such as the TM-16A Plus

 

130.thumb.jpg?osCsid=rf6tj4v5qqlpk5ijq2d

 

...or this for push button (DTMF) only

dtmf_decoder.jpg

 

Yeah, but when you were a techopeasant like me, you didn't want anything more high tech than your finger.

 

And anyway, if Mom had discovered either of those two devices under my bed, she might have suspected something, like that I was an alien from the future.  Remember, I'm talking about 1954, not 2014.


 
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Yeah, but when you were a techopeasant like me, you didn't want anything more high tech than your finger.

 

And anyway, if Mom had discovered either of those two devices under my bed, she might have suspected something, like that I was an alien from the future.  Remember, I'm talking about 1954, not 2014.

 

 

A Touch Screen rotary phone would sure freak her out, lol.

 

touch_screen_rotary_concept_phone_2.jpg

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I know that some switchboards had lights also to alert the person at the switchboard that the receiver was lifted. Clicking the button on the telephone would make the light flash to alert them that immediate action was required on a line which was connected to a call.

 

I had thought that the advent of technology of universal caller i.d. would for all time prevent reuse of the trope of a telephone number having to be traced and the person called having to keep the other party on the line until the trace was completed. I am sad to say that the trope remains because now the caller who wishes to remain anonymous uses voip and bounces the call through many servers and so a trace yet requires considerable time.

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Can you hear me now??

 

 Thanks for reminding me, I need to make a post to the Annoying Commercial thread.

 

Sorry, but I'm afraid the Annoying Commercial trophy has been retired by  GEICO's infamous "Did you know that...?"  It was hard for them to top the lizard, but somehow they managed to do so.

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I remember that! My experiences were before cellphones. Now, I refuse to have a land-line and am no longer harassed in this manner as my cellphone severs the connection immediately.

 

I may be imagining this, but I seem to remember seeing a film where clicking the cradle could actually call a specific number. I may be confusing this with the party line's bell cranking - or not. There's a lot of that in older films.

As one of the few people left who has ONLY a land line, I probably also deserve to have a party line..........I've just ordered a snazzy new peach-colored rotary phone.

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Fred, I don't, in MY lifetime, remember a time when that EVER worked.

 

I've seen it done in so many movies when I was a kid, that when I finally got cut off in real life, I gave it a try ( it worked for BOGEY and others in the MOVIES!) so, I did that trick and simply got a dial tone.  NEVER got the operator!

 

FINANCE:  I still have a landline.  I find it frustrating to use a cell phone ALL the time.  For instance, you CAN'T "slam down" a cell phone to hang up in anger like you can an older phone with a reciever that fits in a cradle.  Pushing the "end" button hard offers NO satisfaction at all.  AND, "slamming down" a cell phone might mean you have to pay big bucks for a replacement for the phone you just SMASHED TO BITS!

 

Sepiatone

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As one of the few people left who has ONLY a land line, I probably also deserve to have a party line..........I've just ordered a snazzy new peach-colored rotary phone.

 

I'm one of the club. I will not own a Big Brother / NSA tracking device (so called Smartphone). My land line has a device for detecting line resistance - I even know when Directv obtain info from the box.

 

I built a Demon Dialer that takes care of busy phone numbers - it will not quit until it gets through.

 

$(KGrHqZ,!lIFIk8vIjovBSOMnEm((g~~60_35.J

 

I take care of my own telephone system up to the outside box.  I once has noise in my line and the Frontier repairman tried to blame my hookups.  When I told him I did my own diagnostics in that the problem was on their end and showed him what I used, silence was quick.  :D

 

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In 1945's HANGOVER SQUARE, there is a scene where Laird Cregar used a phone in a restaurant; it's one of those early crank up wall models (the film takes place in gaslit London). At the end of his call, the attendant tells him he needs to "sign out"(?), whereby he demonstrates to Cregar, and cranks it a couple of times. I don't know if this was across the board in those early phones, or if it was a British thing.

 

Along these lines, in the Screen Directors Playhouse episode titled "White Corridors", which also stars Linda Darnell, she witnesses a murder at a hospital, and in a phone booth, calls an operator to report this. The operator tells her she needs to press something first (I don't quite hear the dialogue); she does so, and the call proceeds. The story takes place in the present (1956), She is an American in London, so it makes me wonder if the British system was different in these respects from the contemporary American system.

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In 1945's HANGOVER SQUARE, there is a scene where Laird Cregar used a phone in a restaurant; it's one of those early crank up wall models (the film takes place in gaslit London). At the end of his call, the attendant tells him he needs to "sign out"(?), whereby he demonstrates to Cregar, and cranks it a couple of times. I don't know if this was across the board in those early phones, or if it was a British thing.

 

Along these lines, in the Screen Directors Playhouse episode titled "White Corridors", which also stars Linda Darnell, she witnesses a murder at a hospital, and in a phone booth, calls an operator to report this. The operator tells her she needs to press something first (I don't quite hear the dialogue); she does so, and the call proceeds. The story takes place in the present (1956), She is an American in London, so it makes me wonder if the British system was different in these respects from the contemporary American system.

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In 1945's HANGOVER SQUARE, there is a scene where Laird Cregar used a phone in a restaurant; it's one of those early crank up wall models (the film takes place in gaslit London). At the end of his call, the attendant tells him he needs to "sign out"(?), whereby he demonstrates to Cregar, and cranks it a couple of times. I don't know if this was across the board in those early phones, or if it was a British thing.

 

Along these lines, in the Screen Directors Playhouse episode titled "White Corridors", which also stars Linda Darnell, she witnesses a murder at a hospital, and in a phone booth, calls an operator to report this. The operator tells her she needs to press something first (I don't quite hear the dialogue); she does so, and the call proceeds. The story takes place in the present (1956), She is an American in London, so it makes me wonder if the British system was different in these respects from the contemporary American system.

Has anyone come across an operative "phone booth" recently? There are still a few public phones, but not in booths.

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Has anyone come across an operative "phone booth" recently? There are still a few public phones, but not in booths.

I can't recall the last "booth" I saw. We still have the phones in a few spots, but no booths.

 

I believe booths were phased out beginning in the 70s; one reason being to make the phones more accessible to the handicapped.

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Thanks for the link. Quite interesting. I believe the operator told Darnell to click button B, maybe since it was a 911 type call,.there was no charge.

What has always interested me about some British phone booths; the varied designs of phones installed. Some had one or two cradle style phones similar to a home desktop phone. A very strange visual experience for me, who was born and raised in the U.S.A.

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