Great link, thanks. You want to see a blank look. Ask
someone younger than 20 or so to dial a number on one of
these. Most kids simply don't know how.
Me, over 40, well, I learned on these. Anyone remember when
the telco owned the phones, and you weren't allowed to move
them around the house, or run another socket? I remember my
family's first touch tone phone. That was so totally groovy,
man. Like, far out!
My wife was just telling us the other day about her mom painting their
phone to match the room. Back when Ma Bell was *the* telephone
company- and you got a choice of wall or desk phone- in black.
Mom would paint the phone. Peeling paint would eventually get
someplace it wasn't supposed to. The repairman would come out and
give her a new phone. . . she'd paint it. . .the paint would peel. .
We were on an 8 party line for a while. Our ring was 4 shorts. The
hard-of-hearing old biddy down the street was 4 longs and she got a
million calls a day. Today you could do 8 different 'ring tones'
for all the parties.
On Wed, 18 Nov 2009 06:53:52 -0500, Jim Elbrecht wrote:
Ahh, I've got a 1940's-vintage 164:
... but once I get it shipped over to this side of the Atlantic I expect
I'm going to have to build some kind of box of tricks to hook it up to the
US system (although I've not researched that in detail yet... maybe the US
system can still "look" like a Strowger exchange as far as the phone's
concerned and so is compatible enough)
I've got a 60's type 706 too, which looks almost identical to the
repro ones in your link - that one I used to have hooked up in my
house when I was living in England. Amazing how long it takes to dial a
number compared to a more modern push-button phone!
There's no ringer in my 164 - it hails from the days where that was
typically done separately. I do have a wooden wall-mount bell-box though,
but the 164 lacks the necessary guts to drive it so I'd have to improvise
Those crazy brits- they put the numbers on the dial backwards.<g>
Yeah- but if the dial breaks, you can just flash with the plunger. try
that with touch-tone. The little independent telco I worked for in
the 70s had a test number set up so we could flash something like
111-2222 and if it went through we'd know it was a dial problem, not a
On this side of the pond all those boxes were white oak. What did
they make them from over there?
On Wed, 18 Nov 2009 08:33:57 -0500, Jim Elbrecht wrote:
They're the same, aren't they? Both US/UK turn clockwise, with digits 1-9
followed by zero. (I'm not sure what the reasoning was behind the UK's
emergency services number being 999 as it takes so long to dial - even
longer than 911 in the US)
Oh, brain fart on my part by the way - it's a 162 that I have, not a 164,
although it looks identical to that one in the photo above (which I
suspect is mislabeled, as apparently the 164 is just a handset, not an
True. I think I have a spare dial for my 162, although not for the
706 (although the 706's were made in the millions, so I bet it's easy
to get spares still).
It's stuff like that - all the little tricks and tips and "secret" things
- that I find fascinating about old phone systems. I think US systems of
old were perhaps more interesting in that regard, given the diversity...
Hmm, I'm not sure. IIRC it's a Bell 1a that I have:
... but it's hard to tell from that what kind of wood it is just from the
grain, and obviously it's stained with something or other and then
Hmm- brain farts here, too, I guess. All that space on the right
makes it look different.
Neat old box. I can't remember ever seeing anything but light oak-
but then I only worked for one rural telco- that had absorbed 2-3
others by 1972. When I got there in 72 we had not yet retired
the operator from the last company.
On Wed, 18 Nov 2009 12:27:05 -0500, Jim Elbrecht wrote:
Yes, the dial on the WE phones does look to be rotated a little more than
the UK ones I've seen - maybe that was common for all 'vintage' US dial
The one I have's a bit beaten up, but then I bet it's pretty old (there's
no indication of a date on it, and I've not found anywhere online which
says when that style was made - but far as I know it was intended for use
with the old "candlestick" style phones, and I think they'd been made
obselete by the early '30s)
Incidentally, not sure where in the US folk can see a big old
Strowger-type electromechanical exchance working? I bet there's one in a
museum or two somewhere (I saw one in a museum out in New Zealand a few
years ago and they're pretty fascinating to see and hear clicking away)
I feel your pain! Do other households in the area have the same problem?
My worst problem used to be answering machines. With my last one, I had
to hold a button while a voice counted through the days of the week,
then to the right hour, then to the right minute. I'd stand around
waiting, and if I missed the right hour or minute, I'd have to run
through an additional 24 hours or 60 minutes.
Power failures don't affect my current phone clock. Perhaps it's
powered by the battery in the handset. I still have to reset it for
daylight time and for drifting, but it's quick, using the number pad and
I still have to reset the clock on my microwave. It would be hard to
run it long on a battery because the display segments are lighted.
However, it can be set in a jiffy. I do it at my convenience because
the oven works fine without it.
I wonder why manufacturers don't advertise if a clock will keep running
for a certain amount of time without power. To me, that's an important
consideration. It should be easier than ever because clocks seem to
need less power than before. I used to keep my 1996 computer plugged in
because the clock could drain the battery before very long. I leave my
2006 computer unplugged 50 hours a week because I've never read that
anyone needed to replace the battery in this model.
Nowadays, clock backups often use EDL capacitors because they have a
longer service life than batteries. If a clock has a low-power display
(LCD), that might be the way to go. The capacitor might need a series
resistor so that when power came on, the charging surge wouldn't damage
the power supply.
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