Welcome to my virtual, all digital – to you museum!


Welcome to my world. I’m an unapologetic fanboy to Avaya Red, Western Electric and anything of the old pre divesture AT&T era!

I’m your curator Steven. I live in the 603 Area Code, in the northeast of the US in the state of New Hampshire, in the subruban area just about an hour north of Boston (not including a bad traffic day) where also the home of the first telephone service began.

I’ve had passion for computers and phones probably since could barely talk. I like voice communications along with electronic communications, because semi human communication is deteriorating thanks to social networks and other mediums destroying the social world we live in. Not to mention cell phones and VOIP phones that make you sound like you’re under water…


I’m your everyman tech guy whose mostly a hardware guy, “the set it and forget it”, Ron Popeil way of managing tech. I’ve tried to do away of dealing or managing technology like children, but still at times have to.

Play like a hobbyist, write like a professional, think like a journalist. ” ~ Your Humble curator

I have been influenced back when my grandmother leased a Western Electric 554 with I think a beige color. I remember it very well up until one day she brought to a store to get rid of her lease. I collect many terminals and telephones vintage to modern, from analog, to IP, from office phones to smartphones. The site launched in 2012 after having about a couple dozen pictures on a former Flickr account.

I put a lot of labor because in the 2000s, a lot of the Web didn’t have a lot of technical resources other than vintage telephones. Also I wanted to gather all the information onto one site so anyone from any part of the world or suffers with a disability where going to a museum or even a technical library could be difficult to get to.

(Donations in monetary or artifacts are welcome!)

Without going too much further with myself, I myself suffer with a lifelong developmental disorder, and coming from a lower middle class family, in an upper middle class town (a throwaway community) being thrifty was made a shameful practice. I didn’t always have the latest and greatest technologies and often used the same PC for a number of years.  Latest and greatest is very expensive practice (albeit a broken one too!) Also my first cell phone was when I was 19, the first smartphone the following year and an iPhone when I was almost 25 and just got my latest one three and half years later.

When it came to telephony, I messed around with some systems, but it wasn’t until I moved to a new home in 2010, where there was a case to have one. More can be seen by clicking here.

I don’t hoard phones and I only collect ones that have a value to them or sets that are compatible. As I mentioned, I received an Avaya Definity PBX from someone who follows this site in March of 2015. I then hooked up the remaining digital sets (about 5 or so) with the grand idea of connecting the 500, rotary sets as they are not compatible with VOIP systems.

I’ve gone through a lot of struggles in my life and the cyberworld was so cruel and dealing with so many careless people that I’ve been happy to say that the impact this site has done to others in the last few years has been my only successes I can look back with a smile.


I don’t consider this a “blog” or “web log”, in fact, this is a very sophisticated website with a lot of data you don’t see (like tags and metadata) organized by category, and seven permanent pages with about five to fifteen sub pages on each subject including a thirty-thousand word Glossary.

The word telephony refers to the Greek word tele meaning far away and phony referring to voice. Despite the word it should not be pronounced as teley-phony, it should be pronounced as tel-eph-anie or think of it rhyming with Stephanie (to quote a paragraph in a Macintosh scribe written by David Pogue back in the day.)  The voice over technology (telephony) historically for the web standards in it’s first twenty years has been very scarce. There are Bell System tribute sites, and there’s those museum sites, and recording sites (for the wrong number or voice mail prompts, etc.) But there isn’t a site where you can find little pictures of schematics of a multi line rotary telephone, to manhole covers, see embed videos of old AT&T films, to the outsides of a central office to a proprietary digital PBX telephone to fire alarm call boxes in the middle of 212 area code all on one site.

This was the purpose of creating this site nearly five years ago. To gather as much information as possible. A simple term on a search engine can bring you to my site within seconds. This virtual museum isn’t for my happiness unlike other blogs who want to have self-gratification. My gratification is when someone sends me an email or responds with some thoughtful feedback on what I post from my daily run with telephony equipment, facilities or apparatus. If you learn or enjoy this resource, then I’m gratified.

I don’t allow a paywall presently, but I do take time to produce high quality and with the most accurate information and if you enjoy it, a little donation would be suggested.


21 comments on “About

  1. Hey there, I have 2 systems here at home. ONe is Nortel BCM50 with IP and digital phones. I also have a UCx50 switch from a new Nortel company formed by ex Nortel/Avaya folks who developed a switch that allows you to use Nortel phones and all SIP phones from 3rd party providers…..I have everything from Nortel M and T series digital phones, all 11xx phones, all i2xxx IP phones and a Cisco 7970 SIP set and an Avaya 9630 SIP set that all work on the UCx. Check out my videos on youtube under “joetheucxguy” if you are interested in finding out more.

    I also have 7 old western electric rotary phones set up on my mantle, a few old automatic electric brown phones and 1 Wedge SL-1 phone. I am impressed by your collection as well!

    • Hey Joe,

      what funny coincidence, I found your blog randomly the other day! I love all the pictures and actually you are giving me ideas to enhance this blog. Like how you have taken pictures of phones out in the open, I’m thinking of doing that now.

      I’m investing more time to enhance this page, didn’t like how it looked abandoned.

      Thanks for following!

  2. I work with a place that hauls away old phones and have seen several of the office phones in there. I think we just chucked a half dozen 8434’s last week. If you are looking for something and want to cover shipping and some of my time, I can be on the watch for some of these. Also, can anyone figure out what phone this ringtone comes from? http://mattcintosh.com/tmp/phone.mp3 (I found the clip from the show Ducktales) It was in the office where my mom worked in the early 90’s (I think they had about 6 phones)
    , they replaced it about 1996 and those phones had a ring that was like “Thuba-thuba-thuba-thuba” which was weird because it wasn’t shrill like most phones

    • Hey,

      You’re in luck, I can tell you that ring tone was a TIE Onyx series of Key Telephone System. That same phone with the ring was used at my elementary school. TIE systems were very common as they were the poor man’s Panasonic, Merlins or Norstar systems.

      • Wow…can’t seem to find anywhere with the rings online. Not sure if the phones online look like the one I remember. Seemed there was 4 line buttons at the upper right, with a light at the left of the button (the buttons were about 1/8″ x 3/4″ rectangular).

        Didn’t know it was a Key system. Even though I’m only 33, I have used a “ferris bueller” key phone. I was a sales rep in some grocery stores and one of them still had those phones back in 2006.

      • if you’re referring to the Onyx, at the time it was called EKTS, for Electronic. Just like the one in Ferris Bueller, just without the complex wirings and analog parts. It worked just like the hard core analogs. I remember them being in the offices, and it lacked many features. It was very limited – by design.

      • Might had been another version from TIE. Age is catching up to me so is memory, and I do think its another name. Onyx and another KSU with a blue box was TIE’s popular systems before being sold out to the Japanese.

  3. Hope all is going well! Your posts are awesome! I will try to figure out how I can post a link to your blog from my blog…..

    • Thanks Joe. I’ve put more time and resources into this Museum which is almost going to celebrate 3 years in June! Since I’ve linked your site on various parts of this site, I’ve noticed a lot of outbound traffic is going to your blog by noticing the clicks count on my metrics. Keep up the world of Nortel on your side of the planet. 🙂


    • Actually, the display does not work and replaced the photo here with one of a couple new (to me) 8434s, and I posted it here: themuseumoftelephony.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/avaya-8434-follow-up/

      these new sets needed its own post.

  4. Hey there! Great blog. I’m working on an ESPN documentary about O.J. Simpson and I was so excited to come across your site because we’re looking for a photo of a 1990s office phone for the June 17th section of the film. I know your “Legal” section said feel free to rip off my stuff, but please shoot me an email if you’re interested in licensing the photo. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Update: The Back Story to Acquiring my Avaya PBX | 2020: Hopeless Autistic

  6. Hey, did you know there is another telephone museum rather close to you? About 3 hours north of NH. It’s called “The Telephone Museum” and its in Ellsworth. ME and they primarily display functioning vintage switching equipment, not so much old phones.

    They have a 5XB, a 3A crossbar, two SxS switches, a CX-100, several manual switchboards, and a weird little analog PBX from the 70s. The coolest part is they let visitors actually try it out for themselves to see how they work. Well worth the trip and I bet you might find it interesting. They’re open on Saturdays only, from 1 PM to 4PM, and only during the months of July, August, and September.

    • Hi! Thanks for your interest. Sorry for not replying sooner. I am familiar with the museum in Maine, while that state is my least traveled where I go. I’ll have to make note of it when I travel in that area. I am also familiar that they are focused on switching over the sets themselves. In the case of Warner/NH Telephone Museum, I was able to touch the very old sets (pre 1960s) – just show that you know your telephony and you can probably be an exception to the rule! That occurred during my first ever visit there!

  7. Somehow I just came across your site. Having worked (in Canada) for AT&T’s business unit, Lucent and then Avaya (launching the Definity in Canada, for example) it did take me back. I loved working at the company in the beginning. AT&T were certainly a trustworthy company to work for and with. And I met some wonderful people in the States as colleagues.

    I will be checking out more of your pages but here are a couple of minor things that might interest you.

    The term terminals (no pun intended) was used because there were several things that could connect to the PBX, not just phones, and more that were planned. In the days of 9.6kb modems, the 64kb PBX was a data switch as well. So the umbrella term was used for everything, with Voice Terminal being the telephone sets themselves.

    Another was the wiring/RJ-45 thing. AT&T was way ahead of most companies and they had designed a BRI like protocol to support their digital telephones. This included how they were wired. AT&T submitted this for approval as a standard interface. At the governing body all vendors (and other players) will argue/discuss the benefits of different designs and ultimately the final version selected was slightly different to AT&T’s. At the time, none of the other vendors were making systems based on these standards, just arguing about how they might be implemented. So what it meant was that AT&T adopted what was the new standard in later system releases.

    Same thing happened later when discussing messaging protocols to exchange messages between two messaging systems. While Audix already did this and did this well, most vendors argued that the standard on which the Audix worked was too complicated. So ended up with a lesser standard that most didn’t even implement. On Audix-to-Audix you could choose the AT&T standard but when going between say, Audix and Octel would have to choose the less functional standard.

    In many ways AT&T was way ahead of its time. It wasn’t a great marketing company as it tended to be engineering driven. It let itself be too easily brow beaten by lesser competitors technically. Once installed these systems ran like a dream.

    Its interesting to see the market today where customers constantly run into problems with VoIP based systems. Some are product issues, some are network issues (local and WAN), and some are customer issues (making changes in the network without considering all the ramifications.) None of these occurred with TDM systems. So now there is a trade off with newer systems offering more capability (collaboration and mobility in particular) and the increased problems. It’s too bad that Avaya acquired Nortel and diluted some of that engineering quality of production effectiveness (Nortel were masters there.) And Cisco used it’s networking muscle to displace working systems with even more complicated platforms that only a CCIE can maintain.

    Now with cloud we are entering a new era, new players and new unknown challenges.


Comments are closed.