TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Classic Six Button KeySets - Additional Lines in Europe

Classic Six Button KeySets - Additional Lines in Europe

Charles G Gray (
Tue, 16 Aug 2005 08:43:59 -0500

I saw your question about multiple line hunt phone numbers in the Digest.

As for Europe, (at least in Germany) most of the stepper switches were
Siemens/Halske RP-40. It was first manufactured beginning in the
mid-1930s, and some was still in operation as late as 1980. I managed
the US Army's phone system in Europe 1971-1976 and we still had
bunches of RP-40. Siemens stopped making repair parts in about 1972,
and from then on our German switch techs pieced together what they
could. Rotary hunt was available for the RP-40, but the Army wasn't
using it.

We had an Italian gentleman who understood the equipment inside out,
but none of the Americans would listen to him. I had been to school
with AT&T for a year, and I knew the benefits of rotary hunt. Since I
was brought in as the "expert", I didn't have any trouble convincing a
couple of generals and a bunch of colonels of the benefits of rotary
hunt, so we went on a big campaign to install the little brass
clip-things that made it possible. In fact, I used to carry one of
them in my pocket to show them just how simple it was to install.
Actually, we improved traffic handling on the network tremendously by
reducing the number of busy tones and re-dials. Mr. DiBernardo and I
made a great team, and many people thought we were "magic". Actually,
we were just pretty good engineers.

We did some other neat things as well, such as instituting one-way
trunks, with overflow to two-way that increased network traffic
capacity by over 50% and didn't cost the Army (American Taxpayer) a
single dime for new equipment. The capability was there all along,
but nobody wanted to listen to Mr. DiBernardo. We implemented circuit
"gooming" before it was a popular concept here,which also resulted
dramatic increases in traffic capacity.

Just a historical note, we still had the switch in the I.G. Farben
Building in Frankfurt that had been installed in 1937-39. The
original switch was 400 lines of RP-40. By the time I was there it
had grown to about 3,000 lines -- but still RP-40.

I did write a plan for a completely new digital electronic switching
system in 1974, known as the "European Telephone System Plan". It
went into the Army budget cycle and was approved in 1975, calling for
installation of American made equipment. I wanted it to be portable
so when we moved bases and troops around we could take it with us.
Then politics entered the game. Mr. Rumsfeld who was the Secretary of
Defense at the time (the youngest one ever), received a hand-written
note from his counterpart in the German Ministry of Defense that said
something like: "Dear Don. I understand that the US Army is
considering replacing their telephone system in Germany. I just want
to remind you that Siemens is eminently qualified to undertake this
work". Soon after that Siemens in Munich was awarded the contract --
even though they had never built a digital switch before. Good old
Mr. DiBernardo ("Mr. Di" to his friends) provided months of "free"
consulting work to Siemens R&D in Munich guiding them through the
design process so they could build something to sell to the Army. Of
course, the Army paid his TDY expenses from Heidelberg to Munich. He
may have gotten some "free" lunches from Siemens.

As for multiple sequential numbers listed on signage, I think that
was/is a psychological thing -- at least in Europe. A company that
listed only one number might be considered "small", while a company
that listed multiple numbers might be considered "large". Of course,
they also listed fax numbers, TELEX, and anything else that might
bolster their public image. It happens here, too, but for different
reasons. I just randomly looked in our phone directory and the Owl
Drug Store in Wagoner, OK lists two numbers -- no way to know if they
are in rotary hunt or not. The "Land of Oz" in Tulsa is the same way.
I suspect that there are hundreds of them here. In the US, it
typically happens because the telephone company sales reps that handle
business lines don't have a clue about rotary hunt, and the users
don't know enough to ask. So if a company has one number, and decides
to add another one (or more) due to business needs, nobody ever thinks
about hooking them together in a hunt group, and the directory bunch
just punches in another number.

Enough of my rambling for now. I'm sure that this may be "too much
information", but once I got started, it just kind of went on.


Charles G. Gray
Senior Lecturer, Telecommunications
Oklahoma State University - Tulsa

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