Sticking onto the Avaya theme, I have this 7407 telephone.
The AT&T 7407 Digital Voice Terminal. An odd name, an odd looking phone with an odd TUI, but what do you expect when Ma Bell was going through a mid life crisis?
AT&T produced these telephones from the mid 1980s to almost the end of the 1990s. These telephones were the largest installed base up until a few years ago, when organizations started to switch over to the 8400 series or the 6400 series digital office telephones, or even going to their Voice Over IP solutions.
This was given to me by someone who thought I could plug this into a PSTN, which you can’t. Unless I had a 7507 and got ISDN telephone service. There is an adjunct to provide power from the wall, because the screen needed more power than what the PBX could carry over.
This issue IIRC was fixed in the next generation of this model, that could be powered by the PBX. The model also had a cosmetic change that had the respective Q and Z on the 7 and 9 dialpad and a black bezel that looked like a 7444, probably by the turn of the 90s.
AT&T couldn’t do anything right back in the day, people made sport of Ma Bell’s enterprise network unit by bashing the term “voice terminals” which some thought was odd and weird. Really these in fact these were in fact terminals. The PBX (whether it was a System 85, a System 85, a Definity, or even their softswitch system, known currently as Avaya Aura) handled the dial tone, the touch tone or DMTF, all the various tones, and lines. If you put a 7405 in a 7410 jack, and vice versa, the system would treat it as what was programmed into the PBX.
A sexy looking telephone, but it had problems
These series of terminals, had up to maybe 10 different models, and AT&T didn’t get consistent to their model numbers till the end of this cycle, which was around 1990. For instance, you may slip and say “7434” when it was really a 7405, because if you see 34 buttons, you’d assume it was 7434.
But the 7407 is an odd terminal to be frankly honest. It has 10 call/line appearances, and the other 30 something buttons are used for features. Many of them. Kinda perplexing too. The 7444 model is similar to this terminal, but the only difference is that the 7444 has every button with a red and green lamp (indicating you can have more than 10 call appearances.)
Another quirk was the wiring. They used a proprietary wiring. The phone had an RJ-45 connection, but if you put a regular Cat 5 wiring, the thing wouldn’t work. This problem was fixed in the next generation of telephones as well. I can imagine how people could poke fun at them. Another issue was the phones had a cheap industrial design, given it was the late 80s, and it couldn’t had cost that much to build these domestically back then than it is today. I’ll admit, the Cisco IP phones has better industrial design, even though the software sucks on them and vise versa of the AT&T phones of yesteryear.
Lucent and Avaya, the respective spinoffs ether had continued manufacturing or refurbished these telephones well into the early double-zeros. These telephones were the largest installed base from the various descendents. These were generally discontinued in the 90s in replacement of the 8400 series terminals that had a better TUI, a better industrial design, a return back to the “K” styled handset (but c’mon you had to love the “R” handset – that was it’s signature look.) Among the technical features, less often used telephony features were moved into a display, by activating the “Menu” key, and you could access features, 4 of them at a time, and scroll up to 4 different screens. This made it easier by using the often used features or focusing on the call or line appearances the priority. AT&T even suggested in the marketing materials to use the menu keys to add more call appearances, since these keys only use one lamp (green.)
This telephone and its cousins are now antiques. Or technologically antiquated. Will they sell well at Sotheby’s? Maybe not. Could you sell these at a yard sale to a kid that could mess around with it for less than $5? Yea. Is there stuff that could be stripped for gold? Not sure – maybe from what I saw when I opened this case. Is it a great artifact at the Museum of Modern Art? Sure. (Ironically they are allegedly Avaya users too!) In release 14 of their softswitch version of their PBX, the Communication Manager these models were cut (supposedly this series took up lots and lots of code to run the PBX.)
If I ever had the money I would build my own Definity PBX with the parts on eBay and somehow get the software to load the system, chances of that happening are slim to none.