TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Bell System Interconnect Paging Systems?

Re: Bell System Interconnect Paging Systems?

Carl Navarro (
Tue, 11 Jul 2006 03:32:57 GMT

On 10 Jul 2006 10:52:00 -0700, wrote:

> Years ago (1969) at the hospital I worked at, the paging (loudspeaker)
> system was built directly into the Bell PBX switchboard. The paging
> operators pulled a separate key and then could broadcast via their
> standard operator's headset. When they pulled the key a red light
> glowed to indicate to other paging operators the system was in use.

> Also at my uncle's factory, anyone could use the page. They had a
> small telephone net as a key system. To use the loudspeaker, one
> dialed 6 on the LOCAL circuit and then made their announcement. I
> only visited there briefly once, but it appeared the loudspeakers were
> not Bell System issue.

> I was wondering if the Bell System supplied the paging system, music
> player tape recorder, or allowed a private interconnect (one of the
> rare exceptions where Bell allowed physical interconnects).

Since Western Electric made Amps, I would guess that they made their
own paging systems, speakers, mics, and amps.

In our non-Bell environment, we had Dictaphone dictation trunks, which
decoded the commands for the boxes. Dictaphone still makes a "Tub"
that probably reuses all the old 386 technology you can find for PC
based dictation. The interface was a specially provisioned trunk.

> Would anyone know if such paging systems were allowed to be
> independent and connected into the switchboard?

> As an aside, in a very recent visit hospital visit I saw operators
> making many pages for doctors. Way back in my day they were slowly
> converting to beeper operation for doctors. Back then, the page
> operator dialed the beeper's code then announced the message. Beepers
> only worked in hospital grounds. I'm surprised today, 30 years later,
> beepers aren't exclusively used.

> Also, my old hospital PBX was quite regimented in Bell System dial.
> Page operators used brief exact simple phases: "Dr Jones 536"
> (meaning, 'Dr. Jones call extension 536'). The modern hospital added
> verbage and was inconsistent, "Dr Jones call for you on extension 453"
> or "Dr. Jones, please call extension 435". In sitting there (I had to
> wait for my visit), I found the modern day verbose announcements
> annoying; I'd prefer the old style brief announcement.

What, you think anybody remembers phone ettiquette? There is no
central trainer like there was back in the day :-) I remember Veasey
the old time operator. Probaby about 75 years old or so it seemed who
didn't have any other place to go so she just stayed on the
switchboard. Proably died on the job LOL.

> My old hospital also had a dictaphone system. That was privately
> owned but fully interconnected with the switchboard. That is, when
> dialing the dictaphone system, a whole separate level on the switch,
> the trunk was through and the user could dial instructions and the
> dictaphone would decode the dial impules and respond accordingly.
> Later, secretaries would hear the recordings and type up the material.
> The PBX operators had nothing to do with that system.

> I don't know if hospitals still have such systems. Miniature tape
> recorders can be easily carried around and record notes right on the
> spot, without the need to go to a phone and mess with dial codes. I
> think there are commercial services -- using Touch Tone command codes,
> that provide transcription.

> I wonder what other physically connected systems were allowed by the
> Bell System in the old days. (Railroads had their own systems.)

> [public replies, please]

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: When I was employed by the University
> of Chicago in the phone room (1958-63 or so), we had more or less the
> same kind of operation. Users (mostly nurses and other employees of
> the University of Chicago Hospitals) dialed '7' -- it was known as
> 'Telepage' and gave their message to one of the operators, who then
> relayed it over the paging system. It was a little bit disconcerting
> however, since the operator could not 'hear herself speak' when
> paging. By that, I mean that the phone room was about a block to the
> east of the hospitals complex. We also had a musical background for
> those very few instances when there was not a page in process. Typically
> the operators who answered 'Telepage' -- I think there were five or
> six of them -- were frequently queued in line waiting for the red
> light on their boards to indicate the channel was free for them to
> use. The pages went out one after the other, all day and much of the
> night, to 'channels' were the caller was waiting on hold. For example,
> when Dr. Jones responded to a page by dialing 5904 for example, he
> would be cut into the holding circuit where Mr. Smith (who had earlier
> dialed '7') was waiting on hold to speak with him. I think they had
> ten links or holding circuits where the '7' dialers would wait for
> the person they were paging to respond to them (by dialing 5901
> to 5910 I think). 'Dr. Blue' and 'Dr. Cart' were two exceptions of
> course. When the loudspeakers called for Dr. Blue or Dr. Cart those
> two were told where they were needed. There were also some code names
> for security police and fire as needed. But if an operator got a
> request for Dr. Blue or Dr. Cart or security (I forget what that code
> word was) they did not have to wait in the queue; they simply went on
> line and started announcing it. But for those special emergency pages,
> the operators also pressed a little 'chirper' noise when they went on
> the line to identify what they were doing. PAT]

By the late '70's, Elgin made a Meet Me Conference system that was
station based. You extended your call to the first extension on the
box, and the joiner dialed the second port extension. I'm not sure if
it was amplified or not, but there may have been a 3dB compensation
for the station to station loss.

Carl Navarro

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: jsw: "Re: Bell System Interconnect Paging Systems?"
Go to Previous message: Robert Bonomi: "Re: A New Way around the Do Not Call Lists ..."
May be in reply to: "Bell System Interconnect Paging Systems?"
Next in thread: jsw: "Re: Bell System Interconnect Paging Systems?"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page