Phones @ Work/Video: WFXT/Fox 25 News, near Boston, MA

This recent video (cued up to the appropriate time relevant to this site) albeit for a few seconds comes from WFXT-TV in Boston that I wished I could say is the Fox-owned station. They were for 2 decades, until last summer, as shocking headlines came around the region that the station would be traded for two stations in San Francisco owned by the Cox Media Group.  CMG also got another Fox-owned station in Memphis as part of the trade, but the scandalous changes are not as disturbing as Boston.

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My Collection: ITT 564 Multiline Rotary Telephone

This latest find – was on Etsy of all places (and not eBay!) In this video I produced, I unbox, open up, add-stations to the Avaya PBX, and then tried to do test calls and dials to the system. The only line that has a lamp is the Line 1 position and typically that requires a power adjunct to provide additional power for lamp status. However near the end of this video, I redid the entire analog board (the extension numbers and set type through the system access terminal) and set them all to 500 (with no MW lamp settings) and wola the Line 1 was lit. However it never went out. And it still hasn’t ring. And the Hold button has a function like the Release key as calls just drop like a Nortel set!

I’ve watched this video before taking this to air, and my gawd, I am the worst on camera talent, the more I am on camera, the more I want to be behind it at all times!

Found this on AmadolynCozyCottage on Etsy again thanks for this great find!

Avaya 96xx 95xx?? Local Olive Garden



I’ve lost track what type of set this is whether or not this is a 9500, 9400 DCP or a 9600 IP telephone taken at the local Olive Garden restaurant. It is one of those 8 button sets with the maximum of 24 call appearances, or you can monitor other extensions or enable features by pressing its navigation keys.

Avaya over the years gone in a craze of making various models of telephones, I know the x400 runs only on ether IP Office or a Aura environment and the x500 can work on both. The 9600s can work (newer models that is) on any Avaya system  released in the last 5 years and SIP environments with success.

I think its easier to say, its one of those series.


New Virtual Exhibit – A System 75 PBX Article

I’ve been lucky to obtain access and finally got to the Holy Grail of modern office telephony – that Avaya’s marketing department would never want you to know! We like to focus on other systems, and platforms like the ESS for an example, but what me interested in phone systems in general was the AT&T era of the 1980s.

Thanks to the N.H. State Library, and Rebecca, one of the reference librarians, I got access to the book taking a recent trip to Concord and got nearly 100 pages worth! AT&T at the time which sold the System 75 (later named the Definity ECS, MultiVantage, Communication Manager to Aura, marketed by Lucent and Avaya over the years) did an entire tell-all of how they developed the system, how they developed it, the hardware background, the software background and how they ate their own dog food, as some AT&T sites were the first test groups. Developing the System 75 from concept to market took about 3 years and was on the market by the time of the publication in January 1985.

Despite the 30 year old publication, the kernel and hardware architecture basically remained the same and such architecture helped its way through newer technologies such as ISDN, packet and IP switching and later Voice over IP. It was this concept and system that would have descending companies tout 90% of the Fortune 500 wither company wide or a few locations using this type of communications using the System 75/Definity/CM/Aura platform. It wasn’t really until the last decade did such entity (Avaya) tout such customer base, which probably has eroded significantly under companies like Microsoft and Cisco with their “unified communications offerings”

I’ll be posting this little by little over the course of the next couple of months, with my own take. It’s surprising it wasn’t a form of a white paper or publicized elsewhere, it’s a great read and it’s a rare find, my job is to make it easy for the people who would be so interested in reading this.

Stay Tuned!


The Avaya 8434 Office Telephone

We’re going back the Definity PBX theme, I wanted to continue post pictures of my own phone stuff.

I bought this Avaya/Lucent/AT&T 8434 Digital Voice Terminal on eBay as a little birthday present to myself back early this year. (Well it was around my birthday.) I explain the reasoning later on.


Whether or not you have know about the system, you see this phone in lots of places, in the America’s Newsroom in the basement level at the Fox News Channel, many of  operations at NBC in the next block over in NYC have tons upon tons of 8434 users that if you tune to your TV ether on MSNBC or the local affiliate there have these decades old terminals. This model the perfect phone for secretaries, war rooms, and as I had shown earlier, in legislative halls like in Albany, New York to the Governor’s Office in Boston, Mass.

There’s no doubt why these are still in existence in many locations, regardless if its technically an antique –  you have 34 buttons for speed/auto dial, line appearances, etc and a wonderful backlit display.


This model was introduced to the Definity ecosystem by AT&T’s Information Systems Unit around 1990. The 8434 was one of the 8 various 8400 Series models, such as the 8403, 8405, 8410, and 8411. There were sub variants such as two way speakerphone and display abilities, but I’ll leave that technical stuff out.* These terminals were reverse compatible, so if you had a shop that still was running as a System 85 or 75, the thing would be able to be “ailased” as a 7400 series telephones. The system would think this as a 7444 but on the desktop it was clearly an 8434.

*OK, here’s the technical stats: There are 3 suffixes on the 8400 model numbers, B means basic, no display; + means a two way speakerphone (the ones that have a B can only listen only), D is obvious, it means it has a built in display and DX had improved speakerphones and changes on the fixed button features, etc.

This model I have is a DX. I forget the differences between the original, but my model has a jack for external speakerphone/headset and a sidecar jack designed exclusively for the 8434.


I had an XM24 sidecar to my 6424 telephone but it got fried last year, so I thought in theory (since the IP Office shares the same number of features and appearances like its Definity-like cousin) that the 8434 could work. I thought it would work with my Avaya IP Office digital phone system. Turns out it works only for testing and selecting a ringtone, but it doesn’t function beyond that because the switch is too damn smart. I thought given it uses a common proprietary signaling  known as the Digital Communications Protocol or DCP.

What really sucks whether if its an incompatibility issue or if its dead is it Vacuum Florescent Display which has a glowing green colored LED like display. It be very cool to see it function

Regardless its deemed to be incompatible.

That’s all for now!

Office Telephones: Avaya 2420 – Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH

The Mount Washington Hotel, in Bretton Woods, NH has a lot of history. The Mount Washington Hotel was the first Hotel to have an in house phone service. This place was the homebase for the International Monetary Fund or IMF after World War II, and was 3 season hotel up until a change of ownership in the late 1990s.

The place now is an all year round hotel, including other nearby hotels and resorts, and has been partially sold to the Omni Hotel Group, whom of which did major changes to the hotel, such as upgrading the old Centrex network to a modern Avaya PBX.

I’ve stayed at the hotel on a number of ocassions for a local conference, and I can attest the Centrex system sucked. I tried to call room service one time, and the call was staticy. The Bellman and front desk had ISDN terminals from Mitel (unmarked models) and Nortel (5300s) In 2010 I noticed they went to an Avaya CM PBX, and its not IP based. The hotel can’t handle Cat 5 wiring throughout the hotel, so most Internet traffic is done through WiFi, and the wiring for the phones is 2 pair, hence 2420s being installed for the bellman, front desk and the restaurants and bars within.


[Really] Private Systems: Massachusetts State House

These sets of pictures were taken in 2009 at the Massachusetts State House. The government of Commonwealth of Massachusetts have been long time Avaya users dating back to the late 1980s.  If you are a native to that state, you should be proud that your tax dollars were at work from upgrading to the latest and greatest office telephones. However, as of these exposures, I would highly assume they are still use the 6400 series telephones.

An Avaya 6424 and a 6408 Digital telephone at the House Chambers of the Massachusetts State House.

I do not have any clue what is in the backend of the Boston area telephone network. Its a Definity based system but that’s all I know. I don’t know how many nodes, how many unique PBX systems that are located throughout the Boston area. Unlike the state that borders far west,  the Commonwealth is often tight lipped about telling anyone anything about the government. I do know Massachusetts has a headcount of maybe just north of 50,000 employees – yeah that’s a lot for a government sector.

This news footage shows a lady making a phone call on ether an AT&T/Avaya 7405 or a 7434 terminal with a florescent screen adjunct in 1991. From  YouTube user: MSTS1

Another unknown is how their dialing plan works. I remember going into one of the elevators was a 7 digit telephone number to reach the campus security. The  Commonwealth does not publish a government directory, nor do they have an online directory. Nor their western counterpart  publishes even a  guide to learn their telephones. They are very secretive in that state, and there is no such thing as public knowledge (don’t say its a security issue – that’s an excuse!)

Some pictures taken in 2010 when I visited there in October with some better quality of images of their super-private of private systems.

Another shot of the press office with very dated key telephones.

That’s all for now!

Private Systems – Video: New York State using Avaya IP solutions

About a couple weeks ago, I posted images of various Avaya telephones in the New York State Capital campus, now I went into a random discovery on YouTube watching hours of telecom stuff today.

I came across a video from the New York State Chief Information Officer’s YouTube channel earlier today. A series of videos were uploaded in the recent weeks showing a video manual of how to use an Avaya 9600 Series IP telephones. I am not sure what users are using these phones or systems, since the NYS government has other Avaya systems statewide, at least a few plants in New York City, and another location in Hawthorne. Like I said before, they are Nortel users except for Albany.

WARNING: They also have a video manual on a Cisco 6900 series (just ignore it – no need to watch that crap!)

AT&T (now Avaya) 7407 Digital Voice Terminal

Sticking onto the Avaya theme, I have this 7407 telephone.

An image of an AT&T 7407 digital office 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.

An image of an AT&T (now Avaya) 7407 Digital Voice Terminal

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.