Coming your way: the convenience of Custom Calling
The telephone makes your home a communications center
Just picture this: The resident teenager is embarking on the second hour of an elaborate “he-said-then-I-said” phone conversation. The resident bill-payer is expecting an important call on that very phone momentarily, yet he calmly reads the paper. Suddenly, teenager blurts, “Gotta go!” and hangs up. Instantly, the phone rings, and bill-payer rises to his important occasion.
Precognition? No. A new service called “Call Waiting,” which is already available to some telephone users around the country. No need to shoo the family off the phone and sit watching expectantly. If you have Call Waiting service and you are talking, a single tone, repeated 10 seconds later, lets you know someone is trying to reach your number. You can either terminate the conversation, or by simply depressing the switch hook briefly, put the first call on “hold” and tend to the new one — all with ordinary phones and no extra lines. And never is heard a discouraging busy signal.
That’s not all. Say that important call still hasn’t come by the time bill-payer and family are due for dinner at a friend’s house across town. A code is dialed in so that incoming calls can be forwarded automatically to the friend’s phone, or, for that matter, anywhere else you wish to send them.
Call Waiting and Call Forwarding features are part of “Custom Calling,” new conveniences available to customers served by a central telephone office equipped with a highly sophisticated computer-programmed mechanism known as the Electronic Switching System (ESS).
So far only about 8 percent of the telephone office lines in the country are so equipped, but ESS is a coming thing. And remember, it wasn’t too long ago that people were marveling over the dial — “You know, you don’t even have to ring Central!” By 1980 about 27 percent of Bell System telephone lines will have been converted to ESS. And some of the 1,705 independent (non-Bell) telephone companies are either already there or headed that way, too.
Forerunner to ESS in the home is the stylish Touch-Tone phone with little push buttons that make musical sounds, instead of dials that tick off a certain count of electrical pulses. (Some Touch-Tone phones are in use where there is no ESS, however, their “music” being converted to pulses that conform with the dial system.) You can tap out a number faster than you can dial one, but the real speed of the system comes in the ESS. The computers involved toss signals around, re-call them and send them on other routes faster than you can think about it, and impressive totals of time are saved.
Two other Custom Calling features that ESS makes possible are Speed Calling and Three-Way Calling. For people who phone the same numbers often, Speed Calling can save a lot of time — and possible errors. Up to 30 numbers are programmed into the central ESS computer; all you need do is tap out a code and two or three digits, instead of the seven or 10 usually required.
Three-Way Calling is kind of an instant do-it-yourself Conference Call. And since you do it without operator assistance, it costs less. You place one call on “hold” with a quick depression of the hook, then phone the other number — long distance or local — and there’s your three-way conversation. It’s a simple way to make business decisions, have a long-range family reunion or find out what both Stephanie and Jennifer are going to wear to the book-and-author luncheon today without a dozen callbacks.
To find out if or when Custom Calling will be available in your area, check with your local telephone business office.