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Re: Classic Six-Button Keysets - Cost During 1970s?

Robert Bonomi (
Mon, 15 Aug 2005 02:31:13 -0000

In article <>,
<> wrote:

> Back in the 1970s, a standard fixture in almost every business (and
> even in some wealthy homes) was a key telephone. This has six buttons
> along the time so that the phone could handle more than one outside
> line, intercom lines, and HOLD function. I was wondering what basic
> key systems cost in the 1970-1975 time frame.

Commonly known as a "1A2" system.

> From what I saw, the pricing was a la carte--every little feature was
> a charge. One large organization did not bother with line lamps to
> save money. The "wink-hold" feature, where the line lamp blinked
> slowly when the line was on-hold, was optional. I never saw a system
> without a HOLD button, but apparently even that was optional. (I
> believe later systems, such as ComKey had package prices).

The button itself, and the mechanical actions related there were universal.
whether the back-end equipment recognized 'hold' and kept the circuit busy
was the 'optional' part. Took some additional cards in the card cage.

> Anyway, would anyone know what typical pricing was in the 1970-1975
> time frame, for the following:

> - "Hunting" feature so busy calls would go to the next line.

Handled entirely in the C.O. nothing in the 1A2 had anything to do with it.
(the CPE was irrelevant, unless you had 'trunk' circuits into a true PBX.)

> - Two lines, two keysets, line lamps that would blink on ring, but not
> wink-hold.

> - Wink-hold feature.

> - Basic manual intercom (push-button to sound buzzer). Sometimes there
> was a SIG button on the phone, sometimes there was a tiny panel with
> pushbuttons mounted next to the phone.

> - Dial intercom, one common channel, one digit automatically sounded
> desired buzzer.

> - Other features of the six button keyset?

> - If a residence had a key system was the cost cheaper than a business?

> Around the 1960s the Bell System came out with a fancier system known
> as the "Call Director". Did this have any advanced features or did it
> just offer more line buttons? I know the basic Call Director shell
> was used as a PBX operator's console, but that was a different phone
> and included an additional lamp for supervision.

One of the big features of the call director was idiot lights that
showed the on/off hook status of multiple extensions. A limited number
on the phone itself (10? 15?) plus expansion sections with additional
25(?) lines/indicators.

I don't know what equipment was behind it -- had to be considerably
more than just a 1A2 chassis, probably Centrex -- but all the call
directors I ever saw had the capability to do a two/three button
'transfer' of an incoming call, to a specified extension.

> Six button keysets are rare to see today, having been replaced by more
> modern systems. Even the Bell System, before divesture, had developed
> several new lines, such as ComKey and phones with more buttons
> (identified by a larger square button with the light within it. Both
> wall and desk sets had a long row of buttons along the top of the
> phone. These were out early enough that they were made in rotary dial
> as well as touch tone.

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