International Women’s Day – Tribute to Lorriane Nelson (aka “Audrey Audix”)

I know this is a day old, but earlier today, I was thinking of an empowering woman related to my site. I am not a big believer of social trends via a hashtag; but I thought in a world of people becoming more and more “bossier”, more and more emotional, and always have a grudge against some “bossy” figure; especially in technology; I thought of all the women in the world, should be the voice of AUDIX. Below is a snopysis of a previously posted article of the email interview of what Avaya sometimes described her voice as “Audrey Audix” in the Modular Messaging platforms.   I guess I could also classify this post as a belated/redefined “Woman Crush Wednesday” even though I am a MUCH younger guy.

(BTW: that static page of AUDIX within the Tribute to System 75 has been finally taken down since we have new stuff since.)

With the decline of voicemail boxes and Avaya’s questionable future, I have to interject some editorials; I’ve used and heard other voicemail systems, and let me say some of the prompts are often rude, crude or just plain condensing. Women sounding like men, ordering you to hang up at gunpoint, etc. Lorriane is far from the competition.  Remember, she always recorded the prompts err, fragments with a smile.


This investigative project is mostly the background to the voice behind the legendary voice mail system, that has been branded AUDIX (the acronym known as Audio Information Exchange), Intuity, Modular Messaging and smaller systems like Partner and Merlin Messaging. Technical information or specific dates or years is not part of the narrative because she doesn’t have that information. Regardless, the early days of the enterprise voicemail system has some interesting history in itself.

 Despite her claim to fame, she was not the first voice of Audix.  According to her, a woman with a Texan drawl (the person’s name is unknown) had done the prompts for at least Release 1. The Bell Labs team wanted the voice to sound more New York, however they didn’t know where to go. Hey I wouldn’t blame them too. In the world of business, if you had a Texan (or heck someone from the West Coast) giving you prompts, would you go asleep or a loose a prospective customer? Especially when a product of AT&T was about to evolve into the competitive marketplace during the time Divestiture?

A man who had once worked on a Bell Labs project of a system with an A/V interface that could bridge such equipment in various rooms or classrooms through a telephony system; was tasked to find the voice. The said project is believed to never gone to market. This manager called a film producer in the Yellow Pages and asked he knew any voice over talent. The film producer had recommended a radio talent to the Bell Labs manager. They spotted a radio news reporter in the Denver market who worked at KADE in Boulder, then KADX going by the name “Lauren Hendricks.”

You can read more by clicking here.

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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Definity AUDIX Failure, part never!

The AUDIX never failed. Apparently it was me who didn’t realize he didn’t have a “null” modem cable. Once I figured that out, and some questioning around the person who gave me the system, I got it to function. Wasn’t that complicated.

The confirmation that things were working was the infamous prompt.

Welcome to AUDIX. For help at any time, press star-H. Please enter in extension and pound sign.

No I don’t want to go back to a VOIP system that I was doing to replace the broken Cisco CME system. The Avaya was supposed to be “temporary”. Well let’s just keep that as long as I can! 😀

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AUDIX!!!

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The AUDIX board is now working!!!

If you can recall, I had a series of issues when I received this around late February. It turns out it needs a “null modem” cable because it’s basically a modem connection to in basic terms make the keyboard and monitor acting as a terminal session to work. I thought I had such cable, but apparently a null cable is thicker than a typical RS232 cable, which was what I only had until recently, I bought an ol US Robotics modem (that’s the supported modem for ether the PBX or AUDIX box) at a thrift store.

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POTD: Avaya Red 8410 DCP Telset Attitash Grand Summit Resort | Bartlett, NH

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This was taken at the front desk at the Attitash Grand Resort Conference Center in Bartlett, NH. This area in the building is where you can only spot the digital sets. The nearby bar, conference rooms and rooms use analog sets. There is no evidence of any attendant consoles ether.

I’ve frequented this facility during the spring time over the last four years for an annual conference. I no longer attend, and I like the place, so I went for the vacation this week. The people I used to see at the front desk were not working (or is no longer working there) to see if I could see the switch room.

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Phone of the Day: Avaya 9608 IP Terminal – Fenway Park

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I noticed this fine Avaya IP telset yesterday when I went to the historic ball park on the East Coast for the first time to see a Boston Red Sox game. I’ve been to the part a few times before for non Sox events. When I toured the place in 2005, I’ve noticed 6408s in the press box.

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