AT&T Merlin, part two

The Merlin systems were basically from the beginning designed to be a workgroup phone system to compare it to the computer networking world. While the Merlin phones look so big business, and in some cases they were. Small Key units like the Merlin were installed in large environments against existing Centrex and electromechanical or analog/digital PBX systems. Because those systems already had 8 or 9 for the outside line, this would be redundant and therefore the Merlin did not have this feature. For small setups it was easy to pick up the phone and make a call. However this one and succeeding phone systems, many central offices would get quick off/on hook statuses because the users would be making an internal call. One trick was to hit the Intercom on hook then pick up the set.

 

A picture of the AT&T Merlin Operator Console

A picture of an AT&T Merlin Receptionist Console that looked almost like a BIS 34D with the BLF console fused in together with an interesting display. It was supported on a Merlin II, System 25 and Legend systems only.

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AT&T Sourcebook – Spring 1988

Last week, I got a nice steal on eBay, a Spring 1988, AT&T Sourcebook. This was once a catalog that you could get and theroretically a nobody could acquire an AT&T phone system. This was the companion sales channel to nobodies to the AT&T Phone Center Store.

This was a surprise. I thought it would be a small little thing, turns out it’s a full catalog. For the next few days, I’ll post reasonable sized images of the catalog. And in the future pictures in this catalog will be used in other subjects involving Avaya Red systems of the time.

$8 for this thing!

Of course the inset cover page is touting the AT&T Merlin product.

Inset featuring a sketch of the AT&T Merlin phones with the tagline "That Merlin of King Arthur's Age Would weep with envy if he knew The ease of telecommunication AT&T invented just for you.

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AT&T Merlin

A black and white picture of a Merlin 5 button, 10 button and 34 button telephone

The cover to the Merlin 1030/1070 users manual

The Merlin (or sometimes known as all caps due to the stylized brand) was produced by AT&T (then American Bell) from 1983, and was continued to market via a rebrand the following year as AT&T Information Services, then the spinoffs of Lucent in 1996 then Avaya in 2000. The brand stuck around for nearly two plus decades, but the systems went more progressive. It’s not to say that the original line had a huge following and install base well into the new century. While there is no conclusive information of the research and development at this time of writing (early 2017), it was most likely developed to succeed the ComKey system at the time.

(As a sidenote, the ComKey was the first electronic telephone system, but it came with the price of complexity in wiring. ComKeys were basically a Peer to Peer or Point to Point, better known as P2P; system basically each set requiring fifty pair cables to connect to each other directly, or indirectly sharing the same telephone circuits; and while the system supported music on hold or paging, it required the similar shoebox sized KSU and circuit boards to do so.)

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The Big Three Zero Wish List

UPDATED: MARCH 2017

This is a fraction of the wish list as I turn three-zero in the coming weeks. Excuse me while I puke my guts out as I feel like I’ve hit the wall into old age territory. (Some days I wonder if my body is really freaking out at hitting fifty in physical sense.)

  • Avaya 302A or B Attendant Console. this is the bad boy that would complete my Definity experience. ┬áThis serves for operators to take or place calls and monitor the general health of trunks and lines (Thanks J!)
  • PUSH BUTTON Telephones! CallDirector, 10 line, 20 line etc. Just one of ether, please!
  • ComKey ÔÇô the first electronic telephone system in ┬ásmall setups by Ma Bell. A Master (the one with the big backend) would be needed if I wanted slaves to run off. One of each would be nice.
  • Merlin Telephones. Any of the original 5 button, 10 button, BIS, etc.
  • The Western Electric 302 metal telephone (not to be confused with the operator console)
  • Who would not want to own a Snoopy and Woodstock AT&T telephone from the 1970s? Or a Mickey Mouse telephone!
  • The Fisher Price Telephone. Awww, does it dial back to your childhood? ­čśŤ For the stupidest reason, I junked mine and same with my mother!
  • Always a sucker for a DEC VT-300 series terminals, most notably the VT-320. I could take a VT-220 terminal, that was cute looking
  • Alphastation computer workstation based on the Alpha CPU. Would love to run VMS for the hell of owning one!
  • Switchboard. Not kidding, those old fashioned switchboards, more of breadbox for the hell of making calls in the house!
  • A couple of ÔÇťInsulatorsÔÇŁ

Wishlists have been updated on the Amazon and Etsy pages (Don’t pay too much!)

Remembering Avaya: Robin and the Vectors

Per to the YouTube description of Martin Askinazi

Robin and the Vectors was a group that started in the mid 90’s at AT&T. We created song parodies about the call center products developed by AT&T/Lucent Technologies/Avaya and created these videos to present and the User Group each year. The band consisted of Robin DeLorenzo (lead singer), Marty Askinazi (Guitar/Vocals/Producer), Zack Taylor (Lyrics), Walter Bier (Sax) and Alex Fattorusso (Bass)

If you couldn’t tell by the name of the c-rated band, this was most likely a marketing ploy for their call center offerings. This was the time in the mid 1990s when AT&T and Lucent was behind in the lucrative market of call centers. The Definity PBX had out of the box support for call centers in enterprise accounts; and it wasn’t too long after they dominated (for all the right reasons!)

This video is a series of several posts.

Telephony 101: On Voice Mail

Some people love voice mail, many just hate it. Many are apparently so egotistical, they think it’s not worth listening to 2 minutes of a voice based message than a generic email.

People also think email is better, but do you know the history of voicemail?

if the answer is no, lets go down memory lane of Voice Mail.

Voicemail is often assumed to be an electronic answering machine on a server. While it’s true, its origins was almost similar to sending a letter or an email, just with spoken word.

The first indication of such language was in printed publications in 1877. A famous man named Thomas Edison with an invention called the phonograph. For the Gen-X audience and older, this is basically a record player. Millenials are probably familiar to just be cool for the latest trend. While it was well known for songs, the ability to record spoken word, as a way to replace letter writing had the possibility. The “voice mail” language was in the lexicon by the 1910s.

While the answering machine was invented in the 1960s, the ability to install these would be so cost prohibitive, and worse, a wiring nightmare. In the early 1970s,┬áMotorola introduced pagers that provided one way voice messages that would be answered by an “answering center” (this in 2017 is completely archaic with the advent of digital telephony, automated attendants, in fact the size of these answering centers were the size of contact centers, which was not existent at the time.) These pagers used UHF signals and were often used for volunteer fire fighters, etc. In this sense, this could be considered as a voice message.

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