I was doing this twenty years ago. It was when I was in college and couldn't afford my phone bill and it was called a "one-ringer". Our home phone came with a big springy cord back then but it wasn't that long ago.

I understand the issue with jamming a network with non-paid calls (though if the result is that paid calls are made in return, it can't be that big of a problem), but this is hardly a new practice.