BBS software for the PDP 11

jim stephens jwsmail at
Sat May 20 16:16:08 CDT 2017

On 5/20/2017 6:42 AM, Liam Proven via cctalk wrote:
> On 19 May 2017 at 21:39, jim stephens via cctalk <cctalk at> wrote:
>> I have news for you. (maybe) From 1976 until it petered out, the phone time
>> cost a lot too.  $200 or more a month at times.
> What does "phone time" mean in this context?
Long distance tolls vs. the zone usage mentioned below.  Not a lot of 
variable vs. distance here, pretty much was so many cents / min.
> I mean, POTS billing, for me, was always time-based, but the amount
> billed per unit time varied according to distance.
> AIUI, the UK system -- local calls cheapish, long-distance calls
> within the country more but not vast, international calls VERY
> expensive -- contrasted with the US system: local calls free,
> unlimited time, but long-distance calls within the country very
> expensive. Thus the development of various early
> telephony-over-the-Internet systems. I never used these at all until I
> had an international long-distance relationship. No real point inside
> the British Isles.
local calls were flat rate within zones from when i was born in the 
60's.  I do know you used to be able to pay per call, but I am not aware 
of anyone that had that measured billing in my family or associates.  
Just one relative who even had one of the old crank phones, but they 
could just take the mic off hook, and crank and have a call placed.
>> Also a stupid charge for local calls where the PUC's didn't stand up to the
> "PUC"?
Public Utility Commissions in every state control the billing 
structures.  In some states, sanity wins over the utilities, but usually 
utilities bribe and engage in any tactic they can to pack them with 
sympathetic folks who allow them to charge all the can, and be totally 
unresponsive to any need to deliver product.

Subject for a huge posting on an entirely different list.
>> Bell system or successors and call bullshit to the charges. Calling across a
>> few blocks could cost a lot and you wouldn't know it unless you were a phone
>> nut due to zone usage metering.
> I don't know what "zone usage metering" is either.
In local metropolitan areas, the phone companies will make up a grid of 
zones.  They set a matrix of tolls between each.  Calls are way over 
priced, and calling across some zones could cause 500' calls to cost as 
much as long distance calls.

Where I grew up in the Kansas City, Mo area, the PUC (see above) in both 
Ks and Mo had gotten together to force the Bell system to create a 
single "free" zone across the entire 30 mile dia area with no zone 
charges in the early 60's.  The tradeoff was they were given free reign 
in other nonsense in the states.

But many areas had or still have this if you don't have a flat rate plan 
of some sort.
>> Only with competition in the mid 80s did US long distance start to fall, and
>> now with the internet and voice over IP have the need to pay for most such
>> long distance gone away for small users.
> Well, yes, for everyone.
> Now, in Europe, the problem is international mobile phone roaming. The
> EU is slowly forcing this out, but in return, now, the cost of
> roaming to non-EU countries is extortionate.
I have not made calls on any cell there, the few times I have traveled 
recently, but am aware.  The place I see it is with my worldwide Vonage 
plan, with some coverage in some countries of all phones, and in some no 
cell, others no POTS.  But for the same rate as I used to pay for US / 
Canada / Mexico, I now get global coverage with same cost / month, $27 
or so.  Send your Phone# I can call.
>> I put in a couple of T1 based systems for large offices though as recently
>> as 7 years ago, and commercially the POTS or digital carrier phone numbers
>> carry a huge toll.
> Wow...
Businesses still look like the bad old days for tolls.

Also had several fights with the "hamsters" who would tack on "fees' for 
such as WWW advertising.  The phone companies claim that you can sign up 
as a vendor and send arbitrary charges to be added to phone bills and it 
isn't their responsibility.

Frontier, a carrier here as well as one of the third party service 
parasites here are total aholes about it.

I had to file a complaint with the PUC here several times to force Pac 
Bell to take off charges to the company I'm referring to.  Prior to me 
getting the billing to manage, they were paying about 800 / month for 
service.  After revision, i got it cut in half by dumping crap like the 
above and other services that were useless.

Companies who send their bills to accounting departments usually get 
screwed over badly because they don't know how or what to question.

But on individual bills one usually notices crap so the third party 
folks have largely quit annoying them.

BTW, the long distance here isn't "free" it is just flat rate for 
individuals.  Most carriers have flat rate plans for businesses, but are 
quite a bit higher than for individuals.


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