Covered Topics

Please see the list of the topics I've covered. It's located near the bottom of the page. Thanks for stopping in!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's Old Is New Again - Pre 1984 Telco Phones

Yes, it's been a while since I posted an entry here. Several work and family related issues have kept me quite busy.

Some of my interests may seem a bit anachronistic, especially when included on the same blog site with high tech solid state electronics and modern desktop PCs. Here is one example:

The Venerable "Plain ol' Telephone"

This past week, I bought a Western Electric model 2500 desk phone off eBay. It was built in 1980, according to the date code sticker on the bottom. This is the 'standard' touch tone desk phone common in America from the late 1960s through the 1980s. While I mainly got this because of nostalgia, the old telco provided phones also offer the following advantages:
1) More rugged construction - the telco supplied phones were generally quite robust and could take an amazing amount of abuse.
2) Often, the sound quality of the old phones is better than that of the newer models.
3) Fairly easy to service - Prior to the breakup of the Bell System in the early 1980s, customers generally rented their instruments from the phone company. Telephone company employees serviced these instruments in people's homes and businesses, thus these phones were made for fast, easy service and repair.
4) These are often quite a conversation piece, as there is a whole generation coming of age that has never used them!

When I got my phone in the mail today, I eagerly plugged it in and tried it out. The handset had that good, substantial heft I remembered from the past. The sound quality is good. But the touch tone pad did NOT work. Since the seller had a 100% rating and assured in the ad that it was "100% functional", I figured something might have happened during shipping. After all, this IS a 30-year old piece of equipment. After doing some research online, downloading some schematics, and verifying all the wiring was good using a DVM, I found out that many of the older touch tone pads are polarity sensitive. In other words, some phones will work if the line polarity is reversed, but many won't. My phone, with the 35-series dial, is one of the models that will NOT work if the phone line polarity is reversed. I simply reversed the incoming line connections and voila - it now works! I have posted several links I found useful in troubleshooting my old phone, as well as a couple sites that sell vintage repair parts and even show how you can safely use Grandma's "candlestick" style phone on today's telco systems!

Some Useful Resources For Those Interested In Plain Ol' Phones:

Parts and Repairs for Telephones

Phone Circuits and Stuff - even has some circuits for making your own 'hold' button, audio interfaces for amplifying/recording off the phone line, using old phones as intercoms, ... VERY useful stuff here!

Western Electric Touch Tone

Western Electric 500 Series Phones

Technical Documentation for Bell System Phones

Believe it or not, you CAN still use ANY of those old rotary dial phones - even on those horrible voice menu systems that say "Press 1 for English", ... See the links below:

Old Phones, Parts, "Pulse-to-tone converters" - VERY cool site; lots of useful restoration parts and stuff! Probably will be shopping there soon.

Wiring a Touch Tone Pad to Any Antique Phone

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