Pink Floyd’s Young Lust telephone sequence – explained and demystified #Telephony #Music #History

Pink Floyd’s Young Lust has been a staple of rock radio for over 40 years. But many people are mystified about the section at the end when a “Mr. Floyd” in the United States attempts to make a collect call to “Mrs. Floyd” in England. There are many “beeps” and “boops” that for the untrained ear are just random sounds. But for the trained ear, it captures a moment in time (1979, in fact) where telephone technology was in a state of transition. Hopefully the following will help demystify those sounds that you hear when you listen to the song.

Telephone World goes into detail on what all the sounds mean given the snapshot in history of domestic and international telephony.

But with the song Young Lust, many of these sounds are showcased so well in such a short timeframe. The telephone network at that time used multi-frequency (or MF) signaling almost exclusively when someone made a long distance call. These are similar to Touch-Tones, but use different frequencies and are used in a different manner. The tones were originally used by operators to access the toll (long distance) network from their stations to operate the toll switches to make a call.

Later on this was more automated with Direct Distance Dialing (DDD) where the general public was able to make long distance calls coast to coast, and more often than not the switches communicated with each other using these MF tones. The general “conversation” between these switches was in the format of “KP” (key pulse), then the phone number, then “ST” (start). The key pulse tone was to alert the equipment that a number was starting and to get ready to accept digits. The start tone was to tell the equipment that the dialing was complete and to process the digits to make the call go through.

See this page for all the details and the video below for the recording

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for posting. I appreciate it. 🙂

    Dave P.
    Telephone World

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