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Volume 28 : Issue 48 : "text" Format

Messages in this Issue:
  Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
  Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
  Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
  Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
  Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
  Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
  Renewing cellphone contract--what to get?  
  Dial-up still popular  

====== 27 years of TELECOM Digest -- Founded August 21, 1981 ======
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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2009 19:43:05 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
Message-ID: <>

On Feb 15, 10:58 am, John Levine <> wrote:

> How soon they forget the IBM 705, 7080, et al.  A one bit error could
> most definitely turn 0007 into 1007.

On the very earliest computers it was standard procedure to run a job
through twice and compare the answers to detect for such errors.

But I believe fairly early on they inclued internal parity checks for
memory moves and arithemetic to check for that sort of thing.  The
first computers so equipped would simply stop and light a red light.
Later computers would have internal retry capability and better


Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2009 22:37:01 -0600
From: Dave Garland <>
Subject: Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
Message-ID: <jbednXc0yu1OcQXUnZ2dnUVZ_gmWnZ2d@posted.visi> wrote:
> Interesting comment, how TWX didn't get involved with computers.

At a PPOE it did.  We had a dedicated box (made by Datatronix, SN00010
or something like that, with all the bugs it implies) that was
attached to the TWX line and interfaced with a Displaywriter (with the
comm package).  It had enough memory so that it could receive and
store TWX, for access the next morning when the WP gear was fired up.

I would have sworn we purchased TWX service from RCA rather than WU,
but maybe I misremember that (this would have been around 1975).
Perhaps RCA was later and involved some sort of gateway accessible via
dialup.  Telex/TWX was really the only halfway reliable way to
communicate with offices in the third world.



Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 01:11:56 -0500
From: Bill Horne <>
Subject: Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
Message-ID: <> wrote:
> On Feb 14, 11:22 pm, Bill Horne <> wrote:
>> IBM chose not to go ASCII: those in the mainframe world still wrestle
>> with EBCDIC, yet IBM is a mostly-profitable business to this day.
>> Western Union's choice not to embrace ASCII had, IMNSHO, nothing to do
>> with its demise: the company failed to adapt to the marketplace's demand
>> for more sophisticated tools, and WU could have provided them without
>> abandoning Baudot in legacy uses such as TELEX. Keep in mind that TWX
>> machines, which (at least for the "100 speed" side) were already
>> equipped for ASCII, never played any significant role in computer data
>> processing. Baudot is just a way of getting something done, and WU chose
>> not to do it, i.e., the company refused to face the threat to its
>> TELEX/TWX networks in time to reform itself for the new age.
> Interesting comment, how TWX didn't get involved with computers.

I mention it because it goes to the heart of the the question: WU's 
policy vis-a-vis ASCII wasn't a factor. What put WU out of contention in 
the data market was its unwillingness to allow anything but TWX or TELEX 
machines to attach to its switches. As I mentioned in a previous post, I 
had an Anderson-Jacobson 841, which used EBCD code at 137.5 baud, but 
Tymnet allowed me to connect it to other nodes without trouble, doing 
code and speed conversion transparently. The only problem Tymnet 
couldn't solve was the need to constantly feed paper into the Selectric, 
since it had a friction-feed platen that wouldn't pull from a roll.

In any case, TWX machines were always half-duplex, and the bulletin 
boards that started the computer-to-computer ball rolling were all 
running full-duplex. I know, because I used to take the TWX machine (a 
Model 35, BTW) at Back Bay in Boston, and connect to Ward Christensen's 
  bbs in Chicago: I think his was the only one that could work with a 
half-duplex machine. Ward was so amazed when I finally got a 300 baud 
modem and my own computer, he broke into my login session with the words 
"Hey, speedy!".


> The PC did help the communication revolution you speak, but only
> _indirectly_.  People _already had_ PCs, so adding a modem and a web
> browser was no big deal.
> In my opinion, the real driver of the communication revolution was the
> huge decline in the price of central data servers (computers) and
> communication lines.  Cheap servers made it possible for people to
> afford to offer useful information on-line, and, to do so in a very
> user-friendly format.  Cheap communications made it possible to
> provide full scale interconnections between servers and the users, and
> again, to do it in a user-friendly format.
> In other words, even if the PC was available for say only $100, there
> wouldn't be much to connect to if servers and communication lines were
> as expensive as they were in 1980.  The parts of a computer--CPU,
> internal memory, and disk memory--all declined steeply in price, so
> the storage and access cost (in terms of cents per character) got
> cheaper.
> The ability for someone at home to communicate to computers or other
> people was forseen and published in the early 1960s; they just had to
> wait for the price of technology to come down to make it worthwhile
> for the masses (and the software to be a little easier for lay
> people.)  We could just as easily be having this conversation using
> Teletypes as a terminal to the central computer.

You're right: it was the combination of everything that made everything 
else possible. People bought computers, and in the process acquired 
CRT's and all the circuitry needed to drive modems and supervise online 
data transfers.

The bbs was the talisman that launched the Internet age: many of them 
grew into ISPs and Internet portals as we know them today. I had 
accounts at The Well, The World (and even traded emails with 
he-who-greps), and Northeastern University's Lynx system, which lasted 
until just a few years ago after a  thirty-year plus lifespan.

I only used FidoNet a couple of times, when my cousin was using it to 
get emails back to me from his Army base overseas, but FidoNet might be 
the "special sauce" that let people realize inter-computer message 
networks _were_ viable. Of course, FidoNet was self-defeating, since as 
soon as it created the "critical mass" of customers willing to pay for 
bandwidth, the Internet was used to serve the demand and FidoNet wasn't 
needed anymore.

It's been fun walking down memory lane. I think I'll leave Western Union 
and its demise to the historians.


Bill Horne
Temporary Moderator
Telecom Digest


Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 08:27:05 -0500
From: Steve Stone <>
Subject: Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
Message-ID: <AQdml.2944$Si4.2555@newsfe22.iad>

> As an aside, I see the PC "mother of aperture" differently when it
> comes to communications.  Early PCs were $1,000, and a modem wasn't
> include and was extra...................

The first IBM PC I purchased in early 1980s was over $3,000.
Two 360k floppy drives, 32k of memory, and an EGA color display.
Top of the line.



Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 02:42:52 -0500
From: Bill Horne <>
Subject: Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
Message-ID: <> wrote:
> On Feb 14, 11:17 pm, Jim Haynes <> wrote:


>> You'd think so, yet one thing that stood in the way of getting ASCII
>> approved was that IBM wanted a code that was easier to translate to
>> card code.  That's why we got EBCDIC.
> Well, for the first 35 years or so, that card code dependency was very
> important in programming, so it made sense to do so.  To this day
> sometimes in rough mainframe programming the "overpunch" of the sign
> in a numeric character causes a letter to be displayed instead of the
> last digit.

In defense of programmers, I will testify to the tough choices sometimes 
forced on them by legacy applications and by printed forms that never 
have enough space.

For the benefit of the non-BLUEBLOODS in the audience, a quick 
explanation: due to reasons known only to the ghods-of-Amronk, it is 
possible to print a numeric field with three kinds of sign.

The first, of course, is the ordinary "+" or "-", e.g., -900.00 for an 
amount of negative Nine Hundred.

The second is to "overpunch" one of the digits, so that its value 
combines both a digit and a sign, e.g., "900.0A" might mean +900.00, but 
the precious printing position taken up by the sign has been saved, so 
that values above 999.99 can now be printed.

The third method is to overpunch one of the digits so that it shows 
non-standard values _only_ if the sign is negative, e.g., "900.0a" would 
signify a negative sign, but a positive value would show as "900.00". 
Again, since the position taken by the sign has been freed, values less 
than -999.99 can be shown.

(These are only examples: I don't remember the actual overpunch digit 

Overpunching is, to be sure, a compromise: it typically happens when the 
totals shown on reports grow too large for the existing forms, and 
programmers are told to add more digits to a printed output than they 
have available space for. Given a choice between using an unsigned field 
which can only take positive values, or overpunching a sign in the 
least-significant-digit, experienced programmers will overpunch a 
negative sign. After all, most totals don't come out with negative 
values, but those few times that they do, the users will toss it off as 
a printing error, and (more importantly), the programmer won't get one 
of the dreaded 3 AM abend calls we all grew to know and hate.


Bill Horne
Temporary Moderator
Telecom Digest


Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 16:55:52 -0600
From: Jim Haynes <>
Subject: Re: TTY 33 and 35 case and cover composition? 
Message-ID: <slrngpjro2.8oh.haynes@localhost.localdomain>

On 2009-02-16, <> wrote:
> IMHO, based on Oslin's book, WU was treated unfairly when they (1) had
> to acquire the money-losing Postal Telegraph and (2) divest the
> international cable business.  WU, even in the 1940s, was not a big
> and powerful company with unlimited resources, yet the govt acted as
> if it was.

It seems to have been government policy to keep WU with exactly one foot
in the grave at all times.  Oslin also argues government favoritism toward
> Again, IMHO, WU was right and AT&T was wrong in this aspect.  AT&T was
> a rapidly growing company, WU was not.  I can't help but suspect if WU
> attempted significant private line voice communications on its own
> network (which it had every right to do and did to a very limited
> extent) AT&T would scream in protest.  Unfortunately, WU wasn't
> interested in voice and much of its network couldn't handle it anyway.

Or didn't dare to rock the boat.  W.U. could have handled voice over its
microwave network, could have done essentially what MCI did.  But MCI
had to go through a bruising court fight to get Bell to connect to their
> AT&T did throw WU a few bones by billing telegrams directly to phone
> accounts and later giving deep discounts on leased lines, at least

As Oslin poiints out, charging telegrams to telephone bills was something
that originated back when AT&T had acquired a controlling interest in W.U.

We can only speculate what would have happened if AT&T had not been forced
to divest its W.U. stock shortly afterward.  We might have had an integrated
and rational voice and record communications business in this country.


jhhaynes at earthlink dot net


Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 15:00:31 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Renewing cellphone contract--what to get?  
Message-ID: <>

My cellphone contract will expire soon.  I'm happy with the telephone
set, plan, etc. and don't want to change anything.

It is a cheap plan.  Can I ask the carrier for any 'giveaways" to keep
me as a customer?  What are some things carriers typically give
customers to get them to renew?  As mentioned, I don't want a new
handset.  But I'd like a new battery for the phone, a case, or a car
charger.  (The phone battery lasts about 90 minutes talk time between
charges, which seems low to me.)

Under my previous cellphone plan, when it expiried it went month-to-
month, same terms, but I could cancel at any time.  I wonder if the
current plan will automatically formally renew and become a new
contract for another full term.


[public replies please]


Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 15:12:21 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Dial-up still popular  
Message-ID: <>

Lightning speed Internet is the wave of the future. But in a
recession, good old dial-up service might get a longer look. Now
Internet providers that have seen their dial-up customer base whittled
over the past decade see an opportunity to stay in the game by
offering the budget-conscious a cheaper option.

For full article please see:

In some cases dial-up could be more expensive than say DSL.  A
separate phone line for the computer may cost more than a DSL line.

Many areas do not have broadband access at all and dial-up is the only

Dial-up works fine for text-based websites. such as Usenet, or
websites that are light on pictures and fancy stuff.  But more
sophisticated websites, that are slow to load on broadband access, are
too bloated to use with dial-up.  Unfortunately web designers seem
intent on using the latest Java/Flash techniques and bells and
whistles, which add deadweight, but not content.  For some reason, TV
channel websites are very badly bloated and hard to use.


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