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Pretty much as the the title asked. I'm hacking around with a lot of retro ISDN equipment right now and learning about the protocols involved. A lot of my questions kind of tie in to old PSTN networks as well. I guess a lot of it may be considered retro-telephony more than computing, but I don't think Serverfault accepts questions related to these mostly outdated technologies. I'm having issues finding good sites to ask these sort of questions since they're considered too old for most professional networking sites and too new / off topic on many retrocomputing sites.

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My thoughts: An on-topic question needs to involve computers, plus obsolete technology. Possible tag:

Questions about the use of computers with obsolete telephone technologies.

  • Analog phone wiring (including party line) is off-topic.
  • Modem/data questions are on-topic, as they involve computers. But analog voice calls are off-topic.
  • ISDN is on-topic, as there is direct computer involvement (even as voice) and it is obsolete now in a different answer to this meta question.
  • Pre-Internet dialing and switching are on-topic, as they either directly used computers, or used technologies (relays, vacuum tubes) that were essential in early computers. Human operators are off-topic.
  • The assignment of phone numbers (555, 911, 1-800, etc.) are off-topic.
  • Services provided by telephone (call waiting, time of day, movie show times, etc.) are off-topic. (Sorry Woz, no Dial-A-Joke here!)
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    While I agree with this, I can see valid questions about analogue wiring and voice. Good old dialup modems used the analogue voice circutry, as that is all there was to use.
    – Chenmunka Mod
    Feb 27 at 18:30
  • 1
    @Chenmunka: My understanding is that if a question contains both on-topic and off-topic aspects -- and both are significant to the question -- then the question is on-topic. So your example would count as on-topic.
    – DrSheldon
    Feb 27 at 20:45
  • @DrSheldon ISDN is far from "obsolete" in the UK. It is still used by more than 1 million UK businesses, and the biggest telco (BT) still offers new ISDN line rentals. However it is planned to be shut down in 2025. It was (and still is) a very good solution for networking dedicated terminals for EPOS, for example. The BBC still uses it for high quality uninterruptible digital audio transmission (using multiple ISDN lines in parallel to increase bandwidth)
    – alephzero
    Feb 28 at 3:37
  • ... the fact that the USA never used it much is a outlier data point. For example an international survey in 2005 (only published in German AFAIK) found that there were 10 times more ISDN lines per capita in Norway than in the USA (and the USA was at the bottom of the usage table of the countries they surveyed).
    – alephzero
    Feb 28 at 3:45
  • @alephzero: Would you mind adding that as another answer here in the meta question? That would give ISDN its own discussion thread and set of up/down votes.
    – DrSheldon
    Feb 28 at 4:48
  • So essentially the verdict is 'No' - after all, if it needs to involve an computer, then the question also needs to be about that computer,which in turn makes everything telephone related secondary, like with any other application a computer is used for in a question.
    – Raffzahn
    Mar 8 at 14:10
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This answer is specific to ISDN. Please up-vote this answer if you think ISDN is on-topic, and down-vote this answer if you think it is off-topic.

@alephzero wrote:

ISDN is far from "obsolete" in the UK. It is still used by more than 1 million UK businesses, and the biggest telco (BT) still offers new ISDN line rentals. However it is planned to be shut down in 2025. It was (and still is) a very good solution for networking dedicated terminals for EPOS, for example. The BBC still uses it for high quality uninterruptible digital audio transmission (using multiple ISDN lines in parallel to increase bandwidth) the fact that the USA never used it much is a outlier data point. For example an international survey in 2005 (only published in German AFAIK) found that there were 10 times more ISDN lines per capita in Norway than in the USA (and the USA was at the bottom of the usage table of the countries they surveyed).

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    Work on ISDN began more than 40 years ago, with the first CCITT specifications published about 33 years ago. As with any technology which has been around that long, and which is still commercially available (at least in some markets), some questions which touch on ISDN will be on-topic and some will be off-topic for Retrocomputing, depending on what is actually being asked about. What can be reasonably said is that questions which touch on ISDN are not inherently either on- or off-topic.
    – Makyen
    Mar 9 at 23:04
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    Some people still use Windows 95, but it's obsolete.
    – user253751
    Mar 11 at 12:19
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Yes, for example, telephone hacking was quite salient in the early hacker's culture, with the PDP-1 and so on at the MIT lab. And didn't the EDSAC use parts from telephone exchange as some kind of bootstrapper.

But ISDN doesn't come under that category. I'm pretty certain that's current technology, not retro in any way.

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We already have How can I construct a dial-up network in my home, purely for the kicks?, which arguably qualifies as this.

So based on precedent alone, the answer seems to be yes.

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