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The rapid growth of telephone service demand, especially after World War II, resulted in a large fraction of party line installations in the middle of the 20th century in the United States.This often led to traffic congestion in the telephone network, as the line to a destination telephone was often busy.

To signal specific subscribers on party lines selectively, telephone operating companies implemented various signaling systems.A majority of Bell System subscribers in the mid-20th century in the United States and Canada were serviced by party lines, which carried a billing discount over individual service; during wartime shortages, these were often the only available lines.British users similarly benefited from the party line discount.Illinois State University terminated its last party line in 1990.One of the last manual telephone exchanges with party lines in Australia was closed down in 1986 in the township of Collarenebri, where most town residents had a telephone number of only three digits, and to make a call outside the exchange area it was necessary to call the exchange to place a call.

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