Find a set of recordings based on an example
October 16, 2012 9:42 AM   Subscribe

I found an audio file years ago that talked about the long-distance phone network in the USA in the 1970's. Can anyone tell me where it's from?

I uploaded the file to soundcloud here. The narrator never introduces himself, nor assigns a title to the episode.

Any idea what this is, or how to go about figuring it out?
posted by Wild_Eep to Technology (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry, no idea. He does out himself as having worked for Bell midway through. I'm guessing as an engineer/systems architect.

It's an awesome podcast though.

He does say he has a load of centralized intercept recordings. As do these guys.

I can't imagine the universe of people who curate recordings of long distance calls can be enormous and assume that hobbyists trade recordings. I'd suggest emailing the owners of the website.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:24 AM on October 16, 2012

Best answer: I'm pretty sure I've heard similar recordings by this same guy before, mainly involving recordings of phone conferences where people were just talking about random stuff.

Ahh. These are from Phone Trips. The episode you have is from The Sounds of Long Distance. They're all really good, albeit in RealMedia format.
posted by zsazsa at 11:00 AM on October 16, 2012

Best answer: The guy in the Sounds of Long Distance recording is Evan Doorbell, whose recordings are available on the Phone Trips site (though Phone Trips is run by Mark Bernay, who also has recordings on the site). Higher-quality versions of Evan's recordings are available for download via FTP.

MuffinMan, believe it or not, he's never worked for the Bell System. He was just a phone phreak who talked to a lot of people (including Bell employees, Jane Barbe (the classic "phone lady" voice), etc).
posted by afiler at 11:13 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's Evan Doorbell, a well known phone phreaker and member of the "Bell Group" in the New York area. Bio here. He has dozens of recordings of various phone system sounds available here (though unfortunately in RealAudio format, not that accessible any more), but you can also find for instance his "How I became a Phone Phreak" series on YouTube.

The overall world you're looking at is phone phreaking, history here, historical article here, and also check out the alt.2600 Usenet group.

There is an interesting web page on the history of phone phreaking here and Phil Lapsley, author of the web page, gives an interesting talk outlining the history of phreaking here.
posted by flug at 11:17 AM on October 16, 2012

Gah, afiler and flug beat me to it. I love the Sounds of Long Distance programs; I listen to them when I'm waiting to fall asleep at night. (Erm, and at other times, too.)

I'll second (third) the notion that the rest of the recordings on the Group Bell site are well worth listening to if you're interested in that sort of thing. I do strongly recommend the higher-quality mp3 versions that afiler linked to.

As an aside, one of my goals in life is to get the phrase "a friend who loves the sound of panel pulsing" to become a code phrase for phone phreaks, sort of like "a friend of Bill W" is for Alcoholics Anonymous folks. And I had no idea I had so many "Metafilter friends" who love the sound... :P
posted by Juffo-Wup at 12:23 PM on October 16, 2012

Response by poster: Wow. Great job, everyone!
posted by Wild_Eep at 2:47 PM on October 16, 2012

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