Party line (telephony)

party lineparty linestelephone party lineselective ringers(party) linecrank phone systemfour-party linesmulti-party linesparty line serviceparty phone line
A party line (multiparty line, shared service line, party wire) is a local loop telephone circuit that is shared by multiple telephone service subscribers.wikipedia
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Local loop

subscriber lineloopsubscriber loop
A party line (multiparty line, shared service line, party wire) is a local loop telephone circuit that is shared by multiple telephone service subscribers.
Hence party line service was often given to residential customers to minimise the number of local loops required.

Telephone exchange

exchangescentral officeexchange
The new telephone exchange equipment offered vertical service code calling features such as call forwarding and call waiting, but often was incompatible with multi-party lines.
Many small town magneto systems featured party lines, anywhere from two to ten or more subscribers sharing a single line.

Eavesdropping

eavesdropeavesdroppereavesdropped
Objections about one party monopolizing a multi-party line were a staple of complaints to telephone companies and letters to advice columnists for years and eavesdropping on calls remained an ongoing concern.

Ringtone

ringtonesring tonePolyphonic
The earliest selective system was the code ringing system, in which each telephone subscriber was assigned a specific ringing cadence, (not to be confused with modern ring tones).
Some central offices offer distinctive ring to identify which of multiple numbers on the same line is being called, a pattern once widely used on party line (telephony).

Party Wire

(The two examples cited in this paragraph are taken directly from usage in the 1935 American film Party Wire.) Again, however, it should be noted, whilst this practice was common, it was not ubiquitous, since despite giving a standard configuration for terse, easily interpreted numbers with their respective ring codes, its chief functional drawback was with the first ring always being long and the second always being short, which limited the number of brief and thus practical ringing combinations that could be used on single multiparty subscriber numbers.
In a small town, an overheard conversation on a telephone party line results in gossip that causes a great deal of trouble for a young woman and a wealthy man.

Switchboard operator

telephone operatoroperatortelephonist
With party-line service, particularly if there were more than two subscribers on the line, it was often necessary to complete a long-distance call through the operator to identify and correctly bill the calling party.
Before the advent of automatic exchanges, an operator's assistance was required for anything other than calling telephones across a shared party line.

Pillow Talk (film)

Pillow Talkfilm of the same namePillow Talk'' (film)
If one of the parties used the phone heavily, then the inconvenience for the others was more than occasional, as depicted in the 1959 comedy film Pillow Talk.
It tells the story of Jan Morrow (Day), an interior decorator and Brad Allen (Hudson), a womanizing composer/bachelor, who share a telephone party line.

Bridge tap

Bridge taps made party lines unsuitable for DSL, even in the few areas where distance from the central office did not already preclude its use.
In the days of party lines, 2, 4, 6, or 8 users were commonly connected on the same pair which appeared at several different locations.

Pair gain

Pair gain systemsubscriber carrier
While primitive lockout devices to prevent two subscribers from picking up the same line at the same time were proposed relatively early, multiple simultaneous calls did not become viable until the initial tests of transistorised pair gain devices in 1955.

Automatic number identification

ANIautomatic number identification (ANI)the caller's number
Systems which identify the caller's name and address to emergency telephone numbers (such as Enhanced 9-1-1 in North America) may be unable to identify which of multiple parties on a shared line placed a distress call; this is aggravated by the use of old mechanical switching equipment for party lines as this obsolete apparatus consistently provides no caller ID and often also lacks automatic number identification capability.
ANI is also not supported properly for calls originated from four-party lines.

Telephone

phonetelephonesLocal Telephone Service
A party line (multiparty line, shared service line, party wire) is a local loop telephone circuit that is shared by multiple telephone service subscribers.

Bell System

Bell Operating CompanyBell Operating CompaniesBell Telephone
A majority of Bell System subscribers in the mid-20th century in the United States and Canada were serviced by party lines, which carried a billing discount over individual service; during wartime shortages, these were often the only available lines.

Postmaster-General's Department

Postmaster-GeneralPostmaster-General of AustraliaPostmaster General's Department
An example is Australia where these were operated by the Government Postmaster General's Department.

Gossip

tattlegossipsMalicious Gossip
They were frequently used as a source of entertainment and gossip, as well as a means of quickly alerting entire neighbourhoods of emergencies such as fires, becoming a cultural fixture of rural areas for many decades.

Pennsylvania

PACommonwealth of PennsylvaniaPa.
Nearly three-quarters of Pennsylvania residential service in 1943 was party line, with users encouraged to limit calls to five minutes.

Montreal

Montreal, QuebecMontréalMontreal, Canada
Shortages persisted for years after each war; individual lines in Montreal remained in short supply at the end of 1919 and similar shortages were reported by telephone companies in Florida as late as 1948.

Florida

FLState of FloridaFloridian
Shortages persisted for years after each war; individual lines in Montreal remained in short supply at the end of 1919 and similar shortages were reported by telephone companies in Florida as late as 1948.

University of Tennessee

TennesseeUniversity of Tennessee, KnoxvilleUniversity of Tennessee at Knoxville
In December 1942, University of Tennessee's strategy in an American football game versus University of Mississippi was revealed to the opposing coach as a telephone on the Ole Miss team's bench had been inadvertently wired to the same party line.

American football

footballAmericanfootball player
In December 1942, University of Tennessee's strategy in an American football game versus University of Mississippi was revealed to the opposing coach as a telephone on the Ole Miss team's bench had been inadvertently wired to the same party line.

University of Mississippi

Ole MissMississippiThe University of Mississippi
In December 1942, University of Tennessee's strategy in an American football game versus University of Mississippi was revealed to the opposing coach as a telephone on the Ole Miss team's bench had been inadvertently wired to the same party line.

St. Petersburg, Florida

St. PetersburgSt. Petersburg, FLSaint Petersburg, Florida
In May 1952, an alleged bookmaking operation in St. Petersburg, Florida was shut down after one month of operation in a rented storefront using a party-line telephone.

Winter Park, Florida

Winter ParkWinter Park, FLWinter Park, United States
In June 1968, the conviction of three Winter Park, Florida men on bookmaking charges was overturned as police had used a party-line telephone in a rented house on the same line as the suspects to unlawfully intercept their communications.

Southern Bell

Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph CompanySouthern Bell Telephone CompanySBC
In 1956, Southern Bell officials refused a request from a public utilities commissioner in Jackson, Mississippi to segregate party telephone lines on racial boundaries.