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

Re: Bell System Interconnect Paging Systems?
13 Jul 2006 07:22:19 -0700

jsw wrote:

> When I first came aboard, the campus was served (??) by Centrex-CU off
> of an aging and quirky 101 ESS on campus. Many departments had their
> own (meaning serving them only, but owned and maintained by Ma Bell)
> key systems. There was a mix of rotary and touch-tone on campus.

It was common for large organizations for individual departments to
have their own key systems for within the department, sometimes
individual departments had their own PBX. The "trunks" on the PBX
were actually extensions off the main switchboard; often there were
true outside trunks as well. Users would dial 9 for an outside line
and 8 for the main PBX line. Some places had a variety of outgoing
lines and users had a series of 8n codes for whatever particular line
they wanted.

> Ma Bell actually stationed two techies semipermanently on campus. They
> had a small 'office' in a room off of a steam tunnel, with their stash
> of cables, KTU parts, etc.

It was also common for large organizations to have such arrangements.
One or more people were essentially assigned full time to the facility
from Bell. Large hospitals and other institutions would have
thousands of extensions in multiple buildings and there'd always be
repair or change orders.

> When TT was used for a page, it was
> often obvious with a very loud TT burst as the page began.

The loud TT burst is an annoying aspect that continues to this day.

> They usually kept pages short and to the point. There were two special
> 'code' pages. 'Dr. Red' was a fire alarm, with the location Dr. Red
> was supposed to report to immediately being the location of the fire.
> 'Dr. Blue' was for code blue, or a cardiac incident which scrambled
> the code team.

Their fire code was "Signal Signal Signal". The fire alarm gongs
sounded like calm department store chimes instead of the usual loud
urgent tone. The hospital ran fire drills often and all employees and
volunteers received some fire training. Everyone else I've ever been
I was told not to fight a fire but to leave the area. In the hospital
we were taught to fight the fire.

The cardiac code was "Pacemaker Team". The operators phoned the
elevator operator to have him place the elevator at the appropriate
spot. The elevators were very slow. (I used to use the visitors'
elevators instead of staff elevators for which I got into trouble. I
didn't understand why, especially if I used them outside of visitor's
hours when the elevators were idle but the staff elevators were busy.)

> We converted to Centrex-CO in the early 80's.

My hospital converted to Centrex after I left. I believe it was
served by an old panel switch or maybe #1 xbar (part of a big city
exchange). I think they needed to wait until the exchange was
converted to ESS.

Obviously at some point they converted from rotary to TT. I wonder
what it was like to convert their thousands of hard wired extensions,
included many complex key systems.

When I was there it was served by a very busy twelve position PBX. The
switchgear room occupied about 2,000 sq feet. No one was allowed in
there except Bell people.

Carl Navarro wrote:

> 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.

The chief operator -- the stern kind in the classic tradition --
retired. She was back the next day as a volunteer handling calls,
though not working as many hours.

> 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.

When I was leaving the hospital, they added "meet me" page for outside
calls. Inside calls were announced as before. Outside calls that
needed paging were sent to special extensions that the page operator
answered. She then paged the person with a matching special extension
number which resulted in a meet. At this time the page operators were
moved off the cord board and given a desk with Call Directors to use
instead. That freed up two positions on the cord board to handle
traffic. As mentioned, at this time (late 70s) they were going to
beepers. Again, I don't understand today, when beepers are cheap and
universal, that there were so many page requests in a hospital.

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