TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Phone Shown in 'Capote' / RJ Connector History

Re: Phone Shown in 'Capote' / RJ Connector History

Paul Coxwell (
Sat, 05 Nov 2005 14:22:16 +0000

> As to modular connectors, I don't think they came out until the mid
> 1970s. When we got new phone service in 1972, our jacks were the old
> style big 4-prong. I believe my office converted to touch tone and
> modular sets around 1977, many of us continue to use that system to
> this day, though I think most of the WE 2500 sets have been replaced
> with more modern 2500 sets or modern fancy sets.

All the material I've ever seen also suggests that the modular
connectors were introduced mid 1970s.

I have a couple of WE-500 sets dating from 1970/71,and they still have
hardwired cords. One of them came to me direct from Idaho and had the
old-style 4-prong plug which was color-matched to the cord and phone
(a kind of pinky-beige color). The cord actually has spade ends for
wiring to a wall junction box and the plug is designed to accept the
same terminations for easy conversion.

> I hate sloppy history in movie props.

Some years ago I used to be involved with lighting and sound for
amateur dramatics, and I was always on the lookout for things which
were out of place in "period" plays. Quite a few of the errors I
pointed out to the producers stick in my mind to this day.

There was a play set during the Korean war in which one of the leading
characters almost went on stage wearing a digital watch which would
have been visible to everybody in at least the front two or three
rows. In the same play where a scene had rows of books on shelves,
one particularly thick volume had large labeling on the spine which
could easily be read at a similar distance -- "Almanac 1971."

Another play set in -- if I recall correctly -- the 1930s had the set
mocked up with modern-style light switches which simply didn't exist
back then.

On telephones, there was more than one play in which somebody in props
had procurred what to them was obviously just "an old phone," and I
had to point out that the British GPO 700-series phones didn't appear
until the late 1950s.

I was pedantic about the use of the props too. There was one play set
in a small seaside town on the south coast in the early 1950s in which
a character had to make a call to London. One of the older members of
the cast had remembered that there was no STD back then and that a
long-distance call had to be placed via the operator, but he then
started dialing 100 to place the call. I had to point out that prior
to STD we just dialed 0 for an operator. There were people saying "It
doesn't matter," but after mentioning this the fellow thought for a
moment and then recalled "Oh yeah, that's right, we did, didn't we?"
So if he remembered, you can be sure somebody in the audience would
spot the mistake too (and not just a telephone geek like myself!).

Most people wanted to strive for accuracy as far as possible, but we
had one producer who was "The what does it matter" type, and I had
more than a couple of disagreements with her over technical

You don't even want to know what she thought we could get away with as
a doorbell in "Little Women."


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