International payphone pictures and phone numbers.
January 2, 2008 5:17 AM   Subscribe

Or check out an Internet Classic, the Mojave Phone Booth and phoneswarm. Was that ten years ago? Wow. Between net years and realtime, I'm not sure whether I should feel old, or I just am old.
posted by honest knave at 5:41 AM on January 2, 2008

Suhh-WEET! Larry Glick, late night talk-show host (my virgin FPP) on WBZ in Boston in the 60's - 80's, used to call a payphone in Times Square, very late at night. It was always fun to see who was going to pick up the phone.

But I thought that a lot of payphones were switched to "no incoming calls" mode after drug dealers were using them as offices, before the age of cellphones-for-all.

Thanks, Effigy! I'm going to find a good payphone tonight and see what happens. Maybe I'll get lucky!
I'd better wear something nice.
posted by not_on_display at 5:45 AM on January 2, 2008

This reminds me of a unusual little payphone story, and I haven't thought of it in a long, long time, but... On my first trip to Europe, in the year 1980, I was staying with some students in a vacant dorm room they let me crash in for a few days, in the town of Delft, Holland. One of the students pointed out to me a payphone in the town, and said you could make free calls from it to anywhere in the world. He told me to take a copper wire (he gave me one for the purpose) and make sure one end was touching metal (for example, the phone casing itself). Insert a coin (just to get things going), dial your number (country code, city code, number) and then take the other end of the wire and insert it into one of the little holes on the "talk" end of he receiver, the transmitter end that you speak into. And you could stay on the line as long as you liked, for free.

I was incredulous, but goddamn if it didn't work. I did it several times over the week or so I was in Delft, calling friends and family in the states. Then I continued on my travels, moving south through Europe, then down into Africa. Returning to Europe from Africa, I eventually made it back to Delft: about 9 months had transpired. Of course I went back to the phone booth, with my copper wire (I'd held onto it all that time!). But it didn't work anymore.

Anyway, I'd sure like to know if anyone else has ever heard of anything like this.

Otherwise, as regards this post, I'd just like to say that I'm proud of the electric-lime-green payphones of my adopted home country of Japan, but I'm sad to say they are rapidly being replaced by drab gray ones. Seems to be part of a general trend toward drabness and samey-ness that afflicts so much of modern design. Cars, for example.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:48 AM on January 2, 2008

This younger generation of prankphone call kids doesn't know how easy they have it. Back in my day we used to have to ride our bikes around town and write down payphone numbers ourselves. Now all they have to do is go to a website. Of course, we didn't have caller ID to worry about, so maybe it's a draw.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:54 AM on January 2, 2008

Of course, we didn't have caller ID to worry about,

posted by IronLizard at 6:01 AM on January 2, 2008

^Anyway, I'd sure like to know if anyone else has ever heard of anything like this.

As a kid, I was told by some older kid that you could do that copper wire trick on any pay phone, but it was more complex -- you had to unscrew the mic-side of the phone, and on a pay phone, that could be gnarly. I knew that as a kid; what I didn't know at the time is that aluminum is a poor substitute for copper, in terms of conductivity. So it never worked for me. (I think the trick was mentioned in WarGames as well.)

Later in life, visiting a friend who went to school in Bennington VT, a payphone there mysteriously started giving free calls to anywhere. I called an ex in Brazil. Didnt... have... a lot to say.

Cool story, flapjax.
posted by not_on_display at 7:59 AM on January 2, 2008

Not forgetting the phonebox that has it's own song and Wikipedia entry...

Dial it, you might get OMD
posted by gallagho at 12:40 PM on January 2, 2008

(I think the trick was mentioned in WarGames as well.)

Yeah, Matthew Broderick did it after he escaped the military, to use the pay phone to call his lady friend.
posted by inigo2 at 12:44 PM on January 2, 2008

Hey - I just found the numbers to all three payphones at my old high school!
Now how's that *67 thing work... oh wait, it's 11:52, nobody'll be there.
i'm NOT chickening out!

posted by not_on_display at 8:53 PM on January 2, 2008

Hey! I just found the number to the Tardis! SCORE!
posted by not_on_display at 8:54 PM on January 2, 2008

not_on_display: "Hey! I just found the number to the Tardis! SCORE!"

Everyone knows that the TARDIS' phone number is Ω.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:56 PM on January 2, 2008

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