Video: The last of the Telephone Booths?

Note: My browser crashed when I was originally writing this over a week ago, and finally caught up with the draft post.

In case you missed it, CBS’ Sunday Morning a couple weeks ago did a profile on unusual subject of telephone booths. They have been on a decline since the 1990s with the rise of mobile technologies.

Mo Rocca appears to be in shock seeing such physical innovation from yesteryear.

In America, the heydays of the actual 3 or 4 stalled booth was from the 1950s to the late 1980s. As I have explained in the past, many (including New York City) was replaced with exterior types.

Did you know on the island of Manhattan, New York City, there’s only 4 remaining, on the West Side?

Some screengrabs from the package:

Mo Rocca mocks the kid using the telephone booth saying “Kids these days, they’re on the phone all day!”

Remember my trip to Manhattan about a year ago? Well I wonder if some of these booths were the ones that were removed.

What is getting replaced is something that may look like a modern day telephone booth, but it involves touch screens, an internet connection and the ability to charge your mobile phone if you need a charge, or conserve on the data use cap, etc. However, like a smartphone it’s mostly used to do everything but make a call.



September 11th Tribute – “The Twins”

On this 15th anniversary of the most horrific and atrocious day in American history, your humble Curator would like to dedicate this day with the AT&T’s mini documentary of the construction of the World Trade Center around 1976 and the installation of switching systems. This video has been embedded in past posts around 9/11, but as a duty to remember, I am posting this again.

I hope you enjoy your day, remembering the day with some grief with happiness of being alive and (if you’re old enough) reminiscing of enjoying life before our world became vigilant of terror.

Here is the video:

Pay to Call: NYC Visit: Telephone Booths

I did not test these on Saturday as the stereotypical SOP of visiting New York is to avoid touching things unless necessary.

I wasted nearly 60% of my battery juice on my iPhone taking pictures and loading them to Instagram (like a stupid teenager) and I stupidly forgot my Lightning charger cable to charge the phone with my emergency battery.  I had to go to the 5th Ave Best Buy as the Fifth Ave Apple Store had the worst service, 12 or more people walked by me and didn’t offer me help (i.e. helping me buy the Lightning cable as Apple long ditched the checkout lines.)

So yeah, if there was ever an emergency, I would think it’s important to have a payphone functioning at least for every dozen blocks, I would suppose.


POTD: Ralph Lauren 5th Avenue Store

From little of what I know about Ralph Lauren, it appears they are an Avaya Red shop in some capacity (Joe the UCX Guy featuring an enterprise class) and my local outlet using a Partner (or I should use it in air quotes.)

I have my own opinions of Mister Ralph. a) I can never afford his stuff (the local Macy’s is once in a blue moon) b) I find it more suitable for older people (that Denim and Supply line, I mean really?) if not for older people then more Country Club-types. And of course c) he legally changed his last name from a borderline expletive to allegedly a film crush with the now late Lauren Bacall? Also am I supposed to be pronouncing his name like the female given name or the long e at the end?

Well anyways, here is a Siemens set taken from the sales floor on Saturday. The interesting question would be is did they go to Siemens or were they legacy ROLM users?

IMG_5733 IMG_5734

On the other hand here are some sets I didn’t (or wasn’t able to) capture but noticed

The Times Square Aeropostale uses an Avaya Blue Norstar system. For many years the non flagship Aeropostale stores used some analog Centrex, MPLS, or maybe VOIP terminated to analog phone service, up until the last couple months they had fallen into the Cisco bandwagon. Aeropostale is doing very lousy and is in danger of ether going out of business or being sold. Friday’s close was around a couple US dimes. What turned me away from there was all the shirts having these stupid embroidered fabric that is better for little kids. It’s hard to wash, then you have “loose” fabric, etc.

A Ruby Tuesday on the outskirts of Times Square had a Norstar system. (Nice service while I had lunch with the mother.)

The Apple Store on 5th Avenue (lousy service just like if you’re in the burbs. Another topic for another day) had clerks carrying around Cisco 7921 like wireless sets. This isn’t a surprise. Cisco has crept its way through Apple over the years, and now it’s gone to their VOIP or telephones. Most Apple Stores are still an Avaya IP Office shop with most of the wired sets tucked into drawers on the sales floors.

A Best Buy where I got better service, downtown a few blocks had Cisco.

The operations for the Fox News Channel still uses Avaya 8400 and 6400 sets. From what I know at the 1211 6th Ave facility, that the few first floors of the building are for FNC, Floors 7 to 8 (or 9?) is for The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s.

Once located at the World Financial Center (using a Meridian 1 system), they went to VOIP when the built the new facilities within 1211. An interesting note, on a blog I once found a picture of  Roger Ailes, the head of FNC having both an 8434 and a Cisco set. Without getting into a political discussion, it would not be a surprise he has a direct line to a paper that could favor his views. (WSJ is a joke today and I am a big fan of markets and corporate news.)

I did not set foot inside 30 Rock, but I’ve seen on MSNBC on cable with more and more Cisco 8900 sets. It’s apparent that NBC wants to do away with Avaya at least at their New York operations more and more. They relocated their Southland facilities from Avaya in Burbank to Cisco in Universal City 2 years ago, their other hubs in Texas has been wired to Cisco and I can go on and on seeing yet another customer of Avaya Red disappear.

Many financial institutions are using Cisco (walked by Capital One Bank, TD Bank, JPMorgan, etc.)

POTD: Macy’s 34th Street – Avaya Red 8403 DCP Terminal

Yesterday, I posted pics from my trip to Manhattan on Saturday. To my surprise I saw a lot of Avaya Red terminals despite Cisco selling VOIP sets like they are generic IP devices that corporate accounts pay little to none (allegedly) for.

The 8403 is a display-less set, designed for “walk up users” (to use a modern day cliche) or people who do not need functionality of a fully blown 8405 or 8410 terminal. The set supports up to 3 call appearances and if a user desperately needs features with indicators, one can program a feature (or two) but the set would act as a single appearance terminal.

It’s cousin set is the 7401, because it shares similarities to the 12 button personal features assignment. Someone can have up to 12 functions for abbreviated dialing, features, etc by hitting the Feature button and hit a single digit on the dial pad. There wasn’t a similar set till the late 2000s when Avaya released two sets, the 1403 and 1603 both for DCP and IP respectively, but ironically this require both to be run behind an IP Office, and not their enterprise PBX systems. It’s not to say one could reload firmware with the 1603 with some SIP firmware (which I believe it can work) and run it against Avaya’s SES services, and claim it to be a generic SIP set. These models furthers more irony because the 8403 was incompatible with Merlin systems anyways.



Phone of the Day: Avaya Red 7400 Series Voice Terminal – Macy’s 34th Street

Yours truly was Live from New York yesterday. Put it this way, I saw more Avaya Red sets this time around than Ciscos. A couple Avaya Blues here and there.

I don’t know much of the history of the original Macy’s. Macy’s went under 2 decades ago, and was sequentially boughtout by Federated Department stores that went on a buying spree of regional department stores; then in 2005 made their big buyout of the May Department Store chain of brands. Between the Federated and May buyouts Macy’s was in almost every mid sized city than prior to. Most of the Macy’s around where I live used to be the brands of Jordan Marsh and Filene’s both using/used ROLM CBX switches.

What’s interesting is I’ve been to Jordan Marsh/Macy’s stores and they had resemblance to the flagship 34th Street store, while former Filenes still has resemblance of the pre-Macy’s buyout, but by default all first level stores has that signature all white look. More non telephony related subjects to this store I set foot for the first time on the above link.

Now from what I can tell Macy’s uses an Avaya Red PBX. This one appears to go back in the System 75 days. Now I didn’t see if this thing worked, because in Release 14 (branded as 4.x)  of their enterprise PBX system, they depreciated the 7400s because the four-wire cards carried a lot of legacy code (from what I’ve read on the list serves, just dumping the 7400 DCP drivers gave Avaya some million lines of code removed.)

This particular model I forget, because AT&T made various models in the 10 year period, it may be a 7410 BIS set. Also, just because the 8400s released in the early 1990s, it was not a surprise to still have a part number (known as Comcodes or PECs) – I believe some models of the 7400 were still orderables in the first year of the Avaya spinoff (early 2000-late 2001.) If you were still on the 7400s at that point, Avaya did want you to go to the 6400 series (crap sets.)

More to come throughout the week.


9/11 Remembrance/AT&T Archives Throwback

Every year the Museum will remember 9/11 until I die or the site dies, whatever comes first.

It’s something we cannot forget, because sadly people are forgetting and our children have no idea, and some people as young as 25 year olds are confused to see a New York once up in smoke and can’t understand how people fell out of the Twin Towers to escape the hell or go into hell, depending on how you look at it.

The Twin Towers had cheated disasters before. The bombings in February of 1993 impacted a lot more people, because each tower could hold up to 50,000 people of workers, visitors, travelers, etc. On the morning of 9/11, Lower Manhattan was considered very lucky compared to 1993, given it was a late summer day, a Yankees game went into extra innings due to a rain delay and people deciding to show up at work at 9:00 instead of 7 or 6 in the morning made the death count much lower than what could’ve been.

(In the 1993 bombings, the bombers tried to hit one of the 4 corners of the towers, and supposedly if they had hit one of the corners of the towers, it could loose it’s integrity immediately. Lower Manhattan was lucky too, as the bombers missed their target.)

Regardless between the three coordinated attacks, over 3,000 people died. AT&T, which was mostly an LD, data transport and cable TV services did not loose any of their workers, while other engineers did loose life.

According to AT&T, the switching system used in 2001, mostly of 5ESS or possibly DMS switching systems remained in tact. In fact because the switching systems were in a vault, the services (at least wired connections) could’ve worked if it wasn’t the wiring getting severed by the atrocious damage of the towers.

In the early 1970s, AT&T produced a video of the construction of the World Trade Center, and installation of switching equipment at the time (albeit an earlier generation of an ESS) and the days that followed with a typical business day in the Twin Towers. This film was released in 1976

Rockerfeller Center Storefront with a multiline 2500 Set





I wished I made log of where I saw this phone, I am blanking at the name and meant to look it up. If someone can help me – I’d appreciate it. It was a shoe store near Rockerfeller Plaza in Manhattan taken in April of 2015.

I saw this in a spur of the moment. If you see in the other picture the 1960s style desk.


Office Telephones: Comdial Impact Telephone – TD Bank – Midtown Manhattan, NY

This picture is hard to see due to the sunset (because the sun sets earlier among the tall buildings) and with sudden light changes, my camera doesn’t reflect it as well – thanks to the photographer – being me!


This was taken at a TD Bank branch in Manhattan in the middle of New York City last weekend. This was one of the very few places that didn’t have Cisco IP telephones (Most of the Big Banks, the Hard Rock Cafe – where I had lunch, and stopped at an American Eagle Outfitters store in Times Square were the ones I saw Ciscos.)

This Comdial Impact 8312 telephone works on small Comdial KSU switches and probably is compatible with the Vertical systems as well. At one time, Comdial was very popular in the interconnect market.

I’m not sure what bank this was before, it could’ve been TD, before merging with the Maine based Banknorth many years ago.