This virtual museum will feature pictures from central offices. A central office is where the hub of the public switched telephone network or PSTN meets and acts as the electronic operator by connecting the call from your home or office to connect to the other party on the other side. These switches are both very physical and very virtual between the millions and millions of wires (in this specific case) that connect to a bunch of mainframe telephone carrier systems that are probably as big as your Frigidaire in your kitchen, the only difference is it carries up to a few thousands of lines in the cabinet and its respective drawers within them. Then the software in the system does the all the magic of hooking up the call whether its down the street or across the country meanwhile these same systems are capable of providing voicemail, services like 3ways, call waiting and calling line ID (CLID or “Caller ID”) services to the customers. (This is a very Cliff Notes version of central offices – I think a Glossary will be in order soon!)
So, lets start a series by showing today’s set of photos includes photos I had taken on a trip to New York in April. In Lower Manhattan, near their government center, there is a huge tower that has no windows. Normally that’s the sign its a central office. Why they don’t have windows? They don’t need them. In fact, windows could bring in unneeded heat in the summer or the unnecessary arctic temperatures in the winter time.
This central office was built when the Bell System still virtually owned the U.S. phone business, the New York counterpart was known as New York Telephone. In the 1984 breakup, NYT joined into the New England Telephone, and the parent company was known as NYNEX (New York New England EXchange), though they operated on separate networks, bureaucracies, union groups etc. New York had more Nortel (Northern Telecom) switches, while in most parts of New England operated the 5ESS switches.
In the mid to late 1990s, NYNEX merged with Bell Atlantic (which operated New Jersey Bell, the Bell companies in PA, Maryland, D.C., Virgina and for the most part of the Mid Atlantic region. The merger took the Bell Atlantic name and the New York/England bell names would disappear. The company had renamed itself Verizon by the year 2000 (without any acquisition by that point.)
The corporate offices are right down a few blocks on Pearl Street, that is the location of the corporate headquarters. I’ll save that for another post.
Like I mentioned earlier, the New York Bell was and is still mostly a Nortel (previously Northern Telecom or NT) using their Digital Multiplex System DMS series of switches, I’m quite positive, I will double check and correct if necessary.