The really scary part was after dialing the number and encountering the operator, we were unable to hang up (any time we hung up and picked back up, the operator was still there, even after waiting about two minutes). Fortunately this was (a) at MIT which still had a central electromechanical telephone switch for student phone lines in the '80s and (b) I had keys to the switch as a student phone repair tech.
I still remember grabbing my keys, running over to the switch, and physically pulling the relay contacts to release the call and prevent a trace to our location in case that was the motivation for holding the line (nowadays traces are digital and instantaneous, but when looking at old-school electromechanical switches you really did need time to trace the call physically through the relays).
Yes, we were aware the operator was probably just messing with us by showing he could hold our line against our will to discourage us from calling again, but it still scared the crap out of us just in case.
We pulled out a paper phone book, devised a set of criteria for potentially interesting superficially invalid phone numbers, and started dialing them. On a rotary dial phone. And we found one pretty quickly. And it was a much scarier experience than we had expected.
The exact number we dialed is unfortunately(?) lost to the passage of time.
It's analogous to finding the hardware corresponding to someone's network address by being able to inspect the routing tables of all the intervening routers. Even if they turn their computer off, you can still trace them back to the physical line.
There is also another service called WPS for cell phones where you get priority just by prefixing your number with *272, the only catch there is your specific phone needs to be enrolled.
Are you saying there's more than one 710 number? [Just Y/N]
In a nice bit of timing, HN Replies (my HN notifier) grabbed the comment before it was deleted! It was interesting, so I'm anonymously adding it below:
> I have seen first hand a large VoIP carrier reach out to an ITSP because one of their end subscribers was scanning the 710 number space either manually or not. And it was within a few minutes after the scan started. This type of activity (and others too) will set off all kinds of alarms at phone providers.
Running a critical network, supporting critical application, leadership of organizations that impact health and safety, key personnel at hospitals, etc.
But yeah - it's all the luck of the draw. Some phone people have had varying levels of luck with other things involving that area code as well: http://www.binrev.com/forums/index.php?/topic/48478-weird-71...
I can't tell whether this is a joke comment.
For example, this PDF explains a lot than anything present on HN or Wikipedia:
Here's a doc that covers all US Federal emergency communications:
I originally discovered this guy from HN and the audio recordings on that site are mesmerizing to me.
I had a relative who was a public safety official. It was pretty wacky, they had an old school western electric leased phone, this magic line and other weird features like custom short codes that would hit "internal" extensions in the office.
If a number was not an active customer it was put in an outbound call list to solicit long distance.
The best story i remember was when the navy wanted to know why we called one of their nuclear submarines. This implied that the right 10 random digits contacted a sub.
Blasphemy! We had integrity then!
There are also VPN via VSAT connection too:
I suspect it got killed off because so many businesses were switching to cheapo, poorly-made, Winmodem-based PBXes that didn't recognize the area code.
No, it was actively blocked (not unrecognized) by lots of places because, like 900, it was caller paid (and, like 900, it saw significant upkeep for phone sex lines.)
AT&T replaced the service you describe with a similar service that was toll-free, and used the 800 area code, which (service, not area code) was also later discontinued.
808-248-0002 - "Your GETS call is being processed. Please hold."
I used to red box a lot of old pay phones to get free calls using a tape recorder. Sadly there aren't too many phreaking hacks these days with everything moving to the cloud.
I feel bad for that operator
It'd be a waste of time to call them.
So's commenting on HN, but look how many of us do it!
There's probably some little old Japanese lady with the full knowledge of the inner workings of 30 year old console hardware waiting for 3 calls a year.
Sounds like a major security problem, and during a crisis is especially when I would not like to have a buffer overrun.