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Further to this functional deficiency, was a twofold practical deficiency.
For though one was only to answer one's own ringing code, every party on the same subscriber line could hear all the ringing codes.
Although various systems were implemented, one that limited the number of coded rings but established a uniform and readily understood format, was to first give the subscriber number as individual digits, which could be from one to four digits long per exchange, separated by the instructional word "ring" followed by the two digits of the ring code where the first digit indicated the number of long rings, followed by the second digit indicating the number of short rings.
Thus spoken, for example, as "nine, three; ring two, two" to mean subscriber No.
This distinctive ring would alert all parties on the line who the call was for.
In December 1942, University of Tennessee's strategy in an American football game versus University of Mississippi was revealed to the opposing coach as a telephone on the Ole Miss team's bench had been inadvertently wired to the same party line.In June 1968, the conviction of three Winter Park, Florida men on bookmaking charges was overturned as police had used a party-line telephone in a rented house on the same line as the suspects to unlawfully intercept their communications.Any handset off-hook therefore tied up the line for everyone.Universities also phased out the systems, which were once common in student dormitories.
Illinois State University terminated its last party line in 1990.Many jurisdictions require a person engaged in a call on a party line to end the call immediately if another party needs the line for an emergency.