From: "John R. Covert" <email@example.com>
Date: 2 Aug 89 23:51
Subject: The Demise of Inward
The concept of Inward is one of the things that modernization of the network
has essentially ended.
Back in the days when lots of calls were operator handled, the Inward operator
was the operator who answered jacks labelled "Inward" on her position. In
some towns, this might be the same operator as the "Coin Collect" operator,
who would answer jacks labelled "Coin Collect" or as any other operator.
In larger towns, there would be switchboards explicitly allocated to these
specialized services. In smaller towns, these services would appear on some
or all of the positions occupied by other operators. The "numbers" route for
non-dialable ring-downs would also have its own set of jacks.
But now that modernization has arrived, and operators sit at computer consoles
rather than cord boards and are located hundreds of miles from the areas they
serve, the whole concept has essentially gone away.
For example, New England Telephone serves Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont,
New Hampshire, and Maine with operators connected to switching systems in
Springfield MA, Cambridge MA, Framingham MA, Hanover MA, Lawrence MA, and
Manchester NH. Most operators are not near these switching systems. They are
in Fall River MA, Brockton MA, Quincy MA, Keene MA, Newburyport MA, Springfield
MA, Marlboro MA, E. Providence RI, Portland ME, Dover NH, Keene NH, and
The long distance carriers are also drastically reducing the ubiquity of
operators. In testimony before the Mass DPU, a competitor of AT&T claimed that
AT&T planned to concentrate its operators in five nationwide operating centers.
The operators don't really have any special sort of connection to the central
offices except when they are performing coin collect functions or busy number
verification. Some reasons a call might go through when placed through an
operator when it didn't work when dialled are:
1. You dialled via one carrier and then used an operator from a
2. Your local central office has a problem translating the area
code or area code and first three digits.
3. Your local operating company has a translation problem in its
4. The long distance carrier has a translation problem in the
toll switching machine serving your central office, but when
you're connected to an operator, you end up using a different
toll switching machine for the call.
Basically, the only reason the operator gets through when you don't is that
the call may be placed through different switching systems along the way.
Inward almost doesn't exist any more. Except when calling an area served by
one of a very few independent telcos with their own operators, AT&T operators
who call Inward are going to reach another AT&T operator. In no case will an
AT&T operator calling Inward reach a local Baby Bell operator. Only in the
case of the completing calls to non-diallable points (and there are thousands
of them left, especially in California), will an AT&T operator end up on a
Baby Bell toll board, but this isn't Inward. The Inward route (rather than
the proper "numbers" route) for such places would end up on an AT&T board which
would have to call the "numbers" route.
This means that if I make a call from Boston via the AT&T operator for help in
calling Montpelier VT, and the operator tries Inward, this means the AT&T (not
New England Telephone) operator for Montpelier, who might be sitting at the
operator position right next to her!
It also means that if I want to call a pay phone in Montpelier collect, AT&T
can't do it anymore, because they can't reach a telco operator. AT&T will call
the pay phone and say that someone's trying to call collect and ask the party
to call back 1+.
From: "John R. Covert" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 5 Aug 89 08:56
Subject: The Verification Operator is NOT Inward
>A couple (?) of Digests back, John Covert mentioned that AT&T
>operators can not talk to Local Bell operators via inward dialing.
>I'm not sure if I'm right, and maybe in New England it's different,
>but if that's the case, how do AT&T ops do Emergency Interrupts and
In V9#250, I wrote
>In no case will an AT&T operator calling Inward reach a local Baby Bell
>operator. Only in the case of the completing calls to non-diallable points
>(and there are thousands of them left, especially in California), will an
>AT&T operator end up on a Baby Bell toll board, but this isn't Inward.
I should have included verification as a case where AT&T operators can end
up on a Baby Bell board. But again, this is NOT "Inward" and Baby Bell
verification operators are prohibited from completing calls for AT&T if the
number turns out to be available. The AT&T operator will have to redial the
call from the originating point or possibly via AT&T Inward.
There is a good reason for this, and it has to do with DOLLARS. Unless the
AT&T call is completed via AT&T's FGD trunks, the local operating company does
not get its share of the revenue from the call.
From: "John R. Covert" <email@example.com>
Date: 7 Aug 89 22:53
Subject: Non-Dialable Points
In my recent article on Inward, I referred to "non-dialable points." That term
includes non-dialable exchanges, toll stations, and other strange things.
To check my numbers, I did a search of a Bellcore database about four years old
for points in North America with the non-dialable flag set, and came up with
4589 of them. I then excluded Mexico and had 1657 left.
After excluding the Caribbean, Canada, Wake and Midway, there were only 825
left, so I'll admit that "thousands" was an exaggeration when referring to the
U.S. They are located in AK, AZ, CA, ID, KY, LA, MT, NV, OR, TX, UT, and WA.
Most of them are toll stations, but a few are exchanges.
For the doubting ones among you, call 206 555-1212 and ask for the Ross Lake
Nat'l Rec Area in Newhalem, Washington. You will be told to dial your "0"
operator (Outside the LATA you'd have to call your "00" operator or 10288-0 if
you're not an AT&T customer) and ask for Newhalem 7735. This is an automatic
exchange which cannot support incoming toll calls. Local calls are dialled on
a four digit basis. The incoming restriction may be due to a long-standing
requirement that calls be diallable on a seven digit basis locally (also
allowing less is ok, but seven must work) before incoming calls can be
permitted. It may also have something to do with the fact that the power
company owns the switch and the wires in and out of the area, and the phone
company may not want to deal with the maintenance issue or doesn't trust them
to return proper answer supervision.
More interesting is the system in Shoup, Idaho. Call 208 555-1212 and ask for
the Shoup Salmon River store -- you'll be told to call Shoup 24F3. It is what's
called a "Farmer's Line," and it's sort of a single magneto drop with several
stations. The people out there maintain the line themselves. It's single wire
ground return. The people on the line call each other with coded ringing (and
being allowed to make local calls is one of the things that makes a farmer's
line different from a toll station). They get incoming calls with coded ringing
from the operator at a cord board. They contact the cord board to get out with
a loooooong ring. The board handling calls is an AT&T board.
One of my favorite toll stations is the one at the ranch of a person I've never
met. Mr. J. D. Dye isn't listed with directory assistance anywhere I've found,
but he is listed right in the Bellcore database. Yep. He doesn't have a phone
number, but you can reach him by asking for DYE J D, in Texas, if you can get
an operator to look it up in her computer. Note: Rate and Route, which used
to be 141 (not 131, as Patrick claimed, that was information) is gone, and has
been replaced with computer terminals at each operator's position. Somewhere
nearby there are also Durham Ed, TX and Durham Hal, TX.
A place I've actually visited (the Patrick Creek Lodge in Gasquet, CA) used to
be Idlewild 5. They appear to have disconnected their toll station and now
have an answering machine on a normal number located 8 miles from the lodge.
Idlewild 1,2,3,4,7,8, and 9 still exist -- and are handled off of an AT&T cord
board, not a PacTel board.
One of the big non-dialable places in Northern California, Sawyers Bar, has
finally become diallable. Like Newhalem, they had local dialing, but could
not be dialled from toll. They were listed in the database like toll stations,
with each subscriber having a rate and route listing. Now their old four digit
numbers (mostly 46XX numbers) are 462-46XX.
Pilottown, Louisiana is still a toll station -- the only one in the state, it
Amchitka, Alaska, has a normal looking seven digit number for billing purposes:
907 751-8001, but from the lower 48, calls must be placed through Anchorage.
I'm sure some of our other readers can find more non-diallable points, both
entire exchanges (of which I don't expect to find more than 5-10 in the U.S.)
and toll stations (of which there are still several hundred).
[Moderator's Note: Bravo! and thank you for a most enjoyable contribution
to the Digest. PT]
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 89 01:22:48 EDT
From: "Robert E. Seastrom" <RS%AI.AI.MIT.EDU@mintaka.lcs.mit.edu>
Subject: Toll Stations
From: Gabe M Wiener <gmw1 at cunixb.cc.columbia.edu>:
> When I was a senior in High School two years ago, I remember getting
> literature from Deep Springs College. The literature said, "To contact
> us, call your long distance carrier and ask for Deep Springs Toll
> Station #2"
Hey, I remember getting literature from Deep Springs College too!
(In fact, I was a senior in high school 2 years ago also...)
Piecing together from memory and from your post, I decided to
try this one on a lark. I tried this just before posting this
message, so the information is just about as up to date as can
be expected. Here's a transcript of the conversation:
Me: 10288-0 (no sense trying Sprint on THIS one...)
OPR: <BEEP> AT&T Operator, may I help you?
Me: Yes, I would like a ringdown please to Deep Springs Toll Station
Number 2, Deep Springs, California (Deep Springs College is in Nevada,
but Deep Springs, California is the nearest POP)
OPR: <laugh... laugh... laugh> Do you have a NUMBER there?
Me: Yes, it's Deep Springs Toll Station Number *2* Deep Springs, California.
OPR: How am I supposed to dial *THAT* number?
Me: Well, if I were you, I'd get in touch with a California operator
and see what THEY can do for you...
OPR: One moment, sir...
<line goes dead for a moment>
OPR2: ... Inwards, may I help you? (I obviously missed out on the
first half of the ident; bummer!)
OPR: Yes, operator, this is the AT&T Operator in Washington, DC and I
need a ringdown to Deep Springs Toll Station Number 2 in Deep Springs,
California. How do I dial that number?
OPR2: Well, you need to dial another operator and she'll dial the call
for you. Dial 619-058-121 for Inwards.
OPR: Thank you, Operator. <drops connection>
<line goes dead for a moment>
OPR3: ...Inwards, may I help you? (DAMN! I can't believe my bad luck
OPR: Yes, I need a ringdown to Deep Springs Toll Station #2, Deep Springs,
OPR3: One moment please...
RECORDING: THE NUMBER YOU HAVE REACHED <click>
OPR3: What number did you want?
OPR3: I'm not showing 2; I *am* showing 1, but I'm getting a disconnect
OPR: Thank you, operator.
OPR: I'm sorry, sir, but we can't seem to get your call through to
Me: Thank you; I'll call directory assistance and see if they can
be of any further assistance to me... (breathing sigh of relief
that I won't get billed for all this putzing around...)
OPR: Thank you for choosing AT&T... <drops connection>
(end of conversation)...
Has the modern world even caught up with Deep Springs (which is so
far out in the middle of nowhere that you can't get any radio stations
at ALL during the day)?? Does anyone out there have any CONCRETE
evidence of any non-direct-dialable exchanges left ANYWHERE?
[Moderator's Note: The above message arrived too late to be included in the
Digest issued at 1:00 AM, but I did want to include it on the same day
for reference with the others, and it gives a good chuckle to close this
issue of the Digest. Even as little as thirty years ago, the USA was full
of places such as described here, and by John Covert in the previous issue.
Operators in the 1940-50 period would have found nothing confusing about
such a request at all. See you tomorrow! PT]
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 89 17:24:44 EDT
From: Gabe M Wiener <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Toll Stations...One More Time!
Ok folks, here come two more:
1) Why are they called "toll stations" anyway? Why aren't they simply called
"non-dialable points" instead?
And, of course, the one I've been asking about all week!
2) If they're running a cable out there to hook up a toll station, why not
just wire them right into the switch and assign them a telephone number
like any other telephone subscriber?
[Moderator's Note: Regards (1): "Toll Station" is the historic term for
these places. They were around from long before almost anyplace was dialable,
thus 'non-dialable' points, while perhaps an accurate description now, was
not very descriptive when they first where installed many, many, many years
ago. The difference between a manual exchange, or 'non-dialable point' and
a toll station is that a toll station is essentially a manual exchange as
far as billing is concerned, but an 'exchange' with just one subscriber,
or more precisely, combination phone operator/subscriber!
The difference between a toll station subscriber and an ordinary subscriber
on a manual exchange is that the former have historically been listed as
'places' in the Bellcore, nee AT&T database rather than individuals listed
in a telephone directory of the exchange (which is also a 'place' in the
database. Covert pointed out yesterday that there are actually entries in
the database which are *the names of people* rather than towns. One of
my favorites was "Mary's Ranch, Nevada, Toll Station 1".
Regards (2): Yes there is a pair of wires running there, just as you would
find from any manual exchange to the subscriber premises, but the 'normal'
exchange (and again, I am talking from a historical perspective) was
relatively small in geographic coverage. Some, if not all toll station
subscribers are 50-100 miles or more from the exchange that serves them.
We are talking about very desolate, very deserted wilderness areas such
as the vast amounts of desert in Nevada and the huge forest/wilderness
areas in Idaho and Washington State. The idea behind a toll station was
that '...everything is a long distance call from here....'. Toll stations
have NO local calling area, and to make them part of a 'local exchange'
with, say, a thousand other people in town who get to call all of a mile
in any direction as their 'free local calling area' would be wrong. If you
did it this way, *they* would get 50-100 miles 'local calling area' versus
the folks in town who would not.
So those few phones in wilderness areas which of necessity make a long
distance (or toll) call everytime they go off hook are described as
toll stations, and listed in the database for lack of any legal name for
the wilderness area by the name of the person who subscribes. In summary,
'toll station' is an historic term with much accuracy and a specific
meaning. "Non-dialable point' may describe a toll station, but 'toll
station' does NOT describe the majority of non-dialable points, although
admittedly, toll stations are among the few types of non-dialable phones
still around. John Covert, can you add to this or correct anything I
have stated? I might add that for billing purposes, toll stations are
generally marked on the toll ticket as 'other place', while for manual
exchanges, the mark will usually be the area code for the geographic
environs, plus some theoretical three digit 'prefix'. PT]
From: email@example.com (Bill Chiarchiaro)
Subject: Payphone in the Desert
Organization: MIT Lincoln Laboratory
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 93 14:34:13 -0500
I was looking through the TELECOM Digest Archives last week and
came across an article about a payphone in the Mojave desert ("Magneto
Telephones," Volume 10, Issue 491). This reminded me of an experience
I had which I will relate and then follow with some questions.
In November 1991, a colleague and I were travelling on business in
Nevada. One night, we were driving north on Highway 375 to pick up
U.S. 6 and head west into Tonopah. My friend had done that trip
before, and said he wanted to stop in the town of Warm Springs to make
a phone call to his wife. Warm Springs is located at the end of
Highway 375 where it joins U.S. 6.
So far as we could tell, there was no longer any resident population
in Warm Springs. Directly across U.S. 6 from the end of 375 was a
closed-down bar (as in saloon), a working streetlight, and a phone
booth. We pulled up in front of the booth, my friend got out to make
his call, and I aimed the headlights at the warm spring. While he was
in the phone, I walked along the bank of the stream, watching the
steam rising into the darkness, and looking up at the black bulk of
the mountain which was the source of the spring.
When my friend was finished with his call, I went into the booth to
call my wife. The phone looked like an ordinary, contemporary
payphone, but without a dial or DTMF pad. I picked up the handset,
and an operator answered after several seconds:
Operator: What number are you calling?
I: 508 XXX XXXX
Operator: I'll have to connect you to another operator.
Pause of several seconds...
Operator #2: What number are you calling? [or so I thought]
I: 508 XXX XXXX
Operator #2: No, that's the number _you're calling_. What
number are you _calling from_?
I: Well, the only thing it says here [on a lable in
the space where the dial would be] is "Warm Springs #2."
Operator #2: Warm Springs #2 in what state? California or Nevada?
She went to work completing the call, and I became curious. Just
where was _she_? For all I knew, she might have been in Nebraska. I
asked, and she replied "Reno." That wasn't too spectacular; Reno is
only about 255 air miles from Warm Springs.
I stood in that isolated phone booth, getting an overwhelming sense
of distance which can be felt only by a New Englander plunked down in
the middle of a western desert. Just before the call went through:
Operator #2: Thank you for using AT&T!
I: Thank _you_ for being there...
To this day, I've been curious about that payphone's local loop:
where did it go? I believe the nearest inhabited town is Tonopah, 45
miles to the west. There is also Manhattan, at about the same
distance to the northwest. However, the booth's drop cable went up to
a line of poles which more or less followed U.S. 6 to the northeast.
The nearest town in that direction is Lund, about 88 miles away. I
believe there were no poles heading in the direction of Tonopah.
I don't recall seeing any equipment which might have been a carrier
terminal. Then again, it was pretty dark out there. Also, it now
occurs to me that I should have paid more attention to the source of
power for that streetlight --- the type of distribution lines might
have given a clue as to how far the AC power and phone signals had to
My only guess is that the loop went to one of the military
installations scattered across the area. Driving through that area at
night, you sometimes see in the distance what looks like the lights of
a town, but there's no town on the map. Even so, I bet the nearest
such installation to Warm Springs was 10 or 20 miles away.
So, has anyone else used Warm Springs #2? Or, does anyone have an
idea about how that phone was connected?
Bill Chiarchiaro firstname.lastname@example.org
[Moderator's Note: Maybe its time to run those articles about toll
stations once again. I'm sure a lot of the newer readers would be
fascinated by things like Warm Springs #2 and Mary's River Ranch #1.
I had thought surely they were all gone by now, and said so in an
issue of the Digest a few years ago only to have John Covert write in
with a list of several dozen still operating in remote places.
Toll stations can also get incoming calls. For example when *calling*
Warm Springs, Nevada #2, your long distance operator will scratch her
head at first and eventually look up the manual routing tables which
will reveal that she has to connect with the operator in Reno, Nevada
by doing what only AT&T operators can do and KP'ing 702 + 181 ...
it'll ring a few times, and another operator will answer 'Reno'; your
operator will then ask for Warm Springs #2.
On some toll-stations, when you call them you hear an audible ringing
tone just like calling any other number; still others are completely
manual and the distant operator has to pull a ringing key with her
finger a couple times so you (as caller) hear nothing except maybe a
'clunk' once or twice. She'll report back to your operator in a minute
or so that #2 is 'DA' ... it doesn't answer; that is unless someone
else is driving down the highway and stopped there at the moment to
admire the warm springs or answer some other call of nature or
whatever. And when the bill comes from AT&T? Just the usual rate, no
operator surcharge since Warm Springs is a non-dialable point, and the
called number will read something like 702-089-0002 or close to that.
By the way, on some toll stations, the transmission sounds like pooh,
as we used to say about Radio Shack CB's years ago, only we didn't say
pooh; there was some other term we used. PAT]