TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Small Size PBXs -- Manual vs. Dial?

Small Size PBXs -- Manual vs. Dial?
12 Jul 2006 11:03:03 -0700

By 1960, the Bell System offered modest sized dial PBXs for small
installations. These usually had cordless consoles. Customers of
course could still get manual cord switchboards for such sizes, such
as the 555 or 551. Indeed, around 1970 Bell Labs developed a manual
cordless switchboard to replace the 555.

Obviously a primary tradeoff is that inter-office calls could be
dialed instead of requiring an attendant. This was particularly
useful for off hour times when an operator wouldn't be on duty.
However, the attendant was still required to process incoming calls
and perhaps serve as a "gatekeeper" to control toll calls (as was
common in those days).

Having seen numerous examples of both types of boards in service in
small installations, I was wondering what factors caused the users to
pick one over the other. Obviously the dial board cost more to rent.
Did the rent save the cost of an operator? As mentioned, an operator
was still required to handle incoming calls. (If anyone knows of
actual rentals for say a 555 or 551 vs a small dial PBX, could you
share them with us.)

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