TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Back in the Cord-Board Days (Re: Delay in Reaching Operator)

Re: Back in the Cord-Board Days (Re: Delay in Reaching Operator)
13 Sep 2005 11:11:20 -0700

Mark J. Cuccia wrote:

> New Orleans was one of the first places to have TSPS (Traffic Service
> Position System) automation for Operator Servvice, back around 1970 or
> so. But automation for operator type services even goes back to the
> early 1960s with TSP (Traffic Service Position) and even late 1950s
> with PPCS (Person to Person Card Special) in some parts of the midwest
> and northeast.

In my old neighborhood of Philadelphia, the service was split. All 0+
and coin 1+ calls went to a TSP (the older type) facility which
handled a large section of the city. But this facility did not handle
plain 0 (zero) calls for some reason. My neighborhood's 0 calls went
to a suburban CO that had cord dial-assistance operators. (I don't
know where directory assistance calls went, that was another office

The Mountain Bell history ("to Laser Beams") shows pictures of cord
boards with some upgrades -- modern illuminated keypads on the
keyshelf and little computer terminals. The Bell System did a lot of
such improvements to legacy technology to improve efficiency without a
full formal upgrade; the Bell Labs Records of the 1970s were full of
articles about that kind of thing. Some Step by Step offices had
computerized front ends and back ends to help route and charge calls,
in some cases becoming a poor man's common control system. (That is,
the dial pulses no longer operated the actual Strowger switches but
rather were recorded in a computer, which then directed the Strowger
switches.) This sort of thing was necessary to expedite higher
calling volumes in growing suburban areas and automated toll and
operator services.

A look at small town telephone directories of the 1960s showed dialing
was both limited and cumbersome in many places. To reach a neighbor-
ing exchange, one might have to dial a special prefix, and a different
prefix for each area, as well as from where you're calling from. The
charts could be rather complex. Or, you could only dial your own
neighborhood and anything and everything else required 0.

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