The Private Museum

In my little art studio I’ve been working on a project of showing my old telephone equipment. After receiving the unexpected Mitel system, I decided to cutover from the Definity for my business operations. (I’ll leave the details at a minimum.) The ongoing project is to get the Definity to be a functioning museum where guests can come to see my art and my gear. (Museums would be in envyhowever Definity or any type of legacy PBX is dropping like crude oil, and if you have the smarts, you could make your own museum interactive. If a museum would use such systems, more than likely they would need more 2/500 boards than digital unless they have ISDN sets or enough proprietary sets to work.)

I have open slots, I’ve struggled to get the IP card to work so I could remotely access the Definity over IP (ongoing investigation), announcements have to be done by dialing in and other things. My goal is to get a couple more analog lines (extensions) and a CO board that supports caller ID; and also link this to the Cisco via a T1 link. (Yes, the Cisco is still in production for every other room in the house.)

Not every set is shown, like any museum, some sets will be swapped out.

This entire project rough costs was about $80, with Closetmaid equipment found at your local hardware or contractor store like The Home Depot or Lowes. I also got a bunch of Melamine boards , I can have up to 6, with the 2 48″ tall pieces that hold the brackets.

When I have the time I’ll be posting the timelapse video of this project as well as showing you how it will be set up.

Lorraine Nelson – The Lady Behind AUDIX!

Thanks to Jason who gave me this link a while back but took me a while to catch up on emails.

In the mid 1990s, the Lorraine Nelson was featured in a The Wall Street Journal Report (that syndicated weekend show) on the subject of voice prompts. (Don’t let the cheesy visual effects in the intro mistake you from the 1980s!)

This video came from her own profile on YouTube, but I’d suspect this was recorded in the mid 90s. In the shortened video, the report stated that she worked for AT&T and a decade before, came up with the idea for the voice of AUDIX. (So with that, it would indicate AUDIX was released sometime between 1986 to 1987 – there is no official record of a specific date or year when the system actually came out to market in 2015.)

Nelson came up with a vision of being the “nicest secretary” for others to hear and provided all the voice prompts for AUDIX (and later Merlin Mail, Merlin [Magix] Messaging, and Partner Messaging.) All of her voiceovers had “a smile” to them.

Years gone by, she lives in Connecticut, and according to list-serves a few years back she does the announcing for the Connecticut Lottery, and 7 years ago she mimicked an AUDIX like prompt for a promo at CNBC when they pre-empted Larry Kudlow’s show during the 2008 Bejing Olympics. The promo ended almost like an AUDIX with the signature “Please Wait.”

While you can still hear her in other places, Avaya seems to be doing what Nelson didn’t want the voice to be. Again I’ve read comments in the list-serve in the past, and there was an indication that her voice was being mimicked with a synthesizer instead of finding her number (or find her profile on YouTube) so she could provide new prompts.

If you ever heard of IP Office’s voice mail system, one would suspect that was roboticily produced. Unless some disease hit Nelson, I can’t get why it’s so robotic!


“Voice Terminals”

Updated August 17th, 2015 at 9:00am to reflect changes and clarity and another update at 9:02am to fix grammar issues.

The definition in Harry Newton’s Telecom Dictionary   describes “voice terminal” as “a pretentious term by AT&T for a Telephone”. Sometimes that Aussie confuses me. One breath his book does not allow proprietary words but on the other page he’ll use an open standard definition but it’s still a proprietary protocol. Some other sites go so far to describe it as “pompous and confusing.”

Where I am going at is the phrase is actually not that far fetched. In most PBX systems (not limited to Avaya) most sets are basically just a device that talks to PBX, in which it resides. In actuality, the PBX is really where the call is placed and goes through and the same location where it receives calls. Comparing it to key systems, the PBX acts as the “brain” and the sets are similarly like dumb terminals. This is another reason why these sets cannot work on a landline, other than possibly short circuiting the network. In fact many digital sets use far less electricity than the analog counterparts, with many lines peaking at 100 volts.

In a terminal enviornment, when you push the Touch-Tone or DTMF buttons, what it does is it sends commands to the PBX to dial “5-5-5-1-2-1-2” then routes the calls to the appropriate trunk whether its local or long distance. Technically your call is actually being placed and located at the PBX and not at your desk. Modern PBX systems will also convert mediums to digital if say the trunk is digital. So I talk to a gal named Melanie on her Verizon iPhone from my Definity PBX, the conversation and the call I place goes to the switchroom. The Avaya DCP set at my desk is just extending it electronically so I do not have to be in a switchroom to talk.

Whatever vendor defines it (some call it a “telephone”, an “endpoint”, a “terminal” or what, the “voice terminal” is essentially the device facilitates  between the user and the PBX (the big iron or gateway sized.)

As defined in the glossary, traditionally the terminals would retrieve the line, and personal settings defined in the PBX at each port. In this example you’ll see a set properly set up as a particularly  extension and the other you will not.


This Avaya 6416 set is set up as a 6416 (or possibly a 6408.) The features that are designed to function as a 6400 series will work the way it should because this jack has it hard wired as an extension to serve as a 6408 series set.


This plugged into a jack that is set up to be an 8410 “Voice Terminal”, so this Avaya 6424 will literally take itself as an 8410. How? Because its built in clock doesn’t come on at all. If you press the date and time key it will, but for a few seconds. However the 6424 will refuse some softkey features like Inspect, because it has its own feature called Button View.

Early VOIP phones also ran as terminals, but as Session Initiation Protocol became standard, basically every SIP phone acted like its own PBX (and creating its own headaches.) Cisco’s Skinny Call Control Protocol or SCCP or Skinny, Nortels Unistim and Avaya’s DCP (allegedly) or a proprietary H323 protocol would mimic this terminal>PBX function.

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!

Video: Avaya Definity Hardware Overview

This video shows my Avaya Definity PBX (at the time Release 9) booting up and I show how simple the terminal user interface operates (look ma – no command line interfaces!) Also the video shows a brief subject on how the wiring works in this setup. Excuse my rambles and nervous chatter, some stuff was cut out because I was making things up, not out of intention, just nervous being on or near the camera. (which explains why my YouTube channel is basically dormant.) People told me I probably would’ve been a good producer if I got into broadcasting. They’re probably right!

Avaya Telephone – Midtown Manhattan, NY



Yesterday, I went to New York City on a bus trip to hang around Midtown Manhattan. We only about 6 or less hours to hang out, and we arrived and departed in the Midtown neighborhood. In this area of the City, other than Rockefeller Plaza, this business which I forget, not too far away from Times Square was the only Avaya based office phones. I walked by a few restaurants with Partners, but this was the only 4600 or 2400 set to find. I can’t tell which set due to this being a spur of the moment, and taking pictures with a DSLR with constant change of lighting faster than a New York Minute can create blurred or white out photos.

So what other sets I saw walking by…oh you know the company that rhymes with San Francisco? Yeah, I’ll show those later on.



My Collection – Definity CMC/csi Carrier


This is my new setup for my Definity PBX as mentioned earlier.  I was able to put this on some new plywood drilled it into the wall and was able to put the system on without it falling (although I almost had a couple runins where I started to use not so gentleman like language.) I got 3 screws (one on the far right, another 24″ down to the left and a third one as a secure layer plus a couple others to just hold the board in place.

Regardless, it’s been up and hanging (and of course running) for about a week now.

it is working in a home environment not tied to the outside world. I’m running on Release 9 of the Definity ECS system, because the Communication Manager v2 (G3r v12)’s license is corrupt and/or has a countdown before I need Avaya to activate it. When I have more time on my hands, I’ll play with the latter processor. VOIP is limited to 5 registered h323 extensions, but since I was using Cisco before, I’ll see if I can tie this PBX  into the Cisco and perhaps have the outbound calling go through an ISDN or T1 link or what have you.

I do have a 24 port analog line card where I can plug in all my analog phones, and have a functioning telephone museum!



AT&T Technical Journal Jan 1985/System 75 Tell All, Carrier Switches




In 1984, AT&T started to market their new digital (fully digital that is) PBX called the System 75. The System 75 was a fully new system that could handle infinite technologies such as ISDN, PRI, T-1, and later IP and packet switching. AT&T also marketed the System 85, which was a Band-Aid code version of the Dimension. The System 85 ran on whatever stored software that used for the Dimension, but it shared hardware compatibilities with the System 75. In fact the System 85 had some interesting features such as AUDIX “Unified Messaging”, ports could max out to over 30,000 extensions and support up to 40 attendant consoles. Well, not the 302 console I posted earlier, but a boxy one that was used for the Dimension.

Another system called the System 25 was based almost entirely on the Merlin system with the code, and features. The System 25 is much comparable to a Merlin Magix or Legend system of today, which eventually replaced this odd setup.

What was common with all the cards and the type of carriers is the boards were cross compatible and hardware for phone lines and trunks could be interchanged during a cutover to a larger system. There was a reason why there was color coded labels on the boards, back in those days System x5 systems required tone clocks, processors and auxiliary connections  to be together, line cards and those alike could be free floating if the customer chose so. Later versions of the Definity system would not have color coded labels and the cards could go in whatever fashion.

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This cabinet can weigh as much as a stainless steel refrigerator, about an 800 pound voice gorilla and can support up to 700 lines.

It’s kinda strange how the power unit is located right next to the processor and tape unit…wouldn’t that cause problems?

To the left and right of each shelf  has a power supply, for each row, it uses two sources of power. What’s interesting in this first version they all have power on and off (or kill switches.)  Newer versions had power in only.

The bottom area was changed to support battery backups, the power supply and it’s tone generator in later years of the Definity/MultiVantage/Communication Manager systems.

It’s safe to say the System 75 scaled horrifically in the beginning again with that 700 port limit. However with creative integrators, you could theoretically have thousands of extensions using multiple System 75 (or even 85) PBXes and link the systems with a Distributed Communications System which would allow feature transparency through multiple of mediums (microwave, fiber, copper, CO, etc.) The New York State Government was a classic example where their Albany network had about 80,000 or so ports/extensions/lines and this was their original setup when commissioning this type of systems in the late 80s, according to Network World. DCS gets lot of mentions in this tell all as this would be a selling point to sell this system to other customers.

AT&T Technical Journal Jan 1985/System 75 Tell All, Attendant Console



Some things don’t change. Sometimes familiarity you shouldn’t mess around with.

In this case, the operator switchboard or Attendant Console as remained mostly the same since 1984, first released for the System 75 PBX. This model # was 302 series, but rarely is branded as such, only in the administrative terminal sessions to add stations and alike. There were 4 different series of 302s, suffixed with letters

A was the model shown below, very Merlin looking, and used button caps similar to Nortels, but more smaller.

B had a different display, with a white instead of metallic.

C replaced the button caps and supported 2 wiring environments. Prior to 302C, you needed the full 8 wires of copper to connect the console. C also introduced modular connections for the hand or headset. Prior to C, the console automatically logged in operators if they plugged in that dual 1/4″ jack into the console. Because of the change of jacks, the operator would had to press a few buttons to log them in.

302D was introduced around the turn of the century and required 2 wire environments only. 302C could work in ether/or environment


At some point, as of this writing in 2015, the 302 Series is officially dead and is no longer sold as new by Avaya as many operators have evolved to administrative assistants doing multiple things and split the calls between those groups, or in some operator environments have been replaced by s0ftware based sets. Operator sets don’t come cheap, and including its Direct Extension Selection or DXS can cost about $1,100 new!

The DXS has evolved, but the  general idea hasn’t changed. In fact the Merlin looking industrial designed remained in tact right to the EOS. The first generation had 8 buttons on the very bottom acting as “Hundreds groups select”. Simply put, if you have dial plan from 4000 to 6000, the bottom 8 buttons would be labeled “40”, “41”, “42” and “53”, “54”. etc. So if you want to call extension 5138, you would hit the bottom “51” key from hundreds group, then  press “38” in the 100 array keys. You can monitor a group of hundreds at a time and in later models as the System 75 evolved from supporting a few hundred extension into the behemoth of the Definity PBX supporting tens of thousands of lines, the Hundreds group keys maxed to 20, so you could monitor a couple thousands of lines if you had that model.




This picture is interesting because its very rare for any AT&T/Avaya Red publication to show exploded views of any of their equipment. This was standard operating procedure for Nortel if someone wanted to replace a part in a console or a set, however it was the job of AT&T to Lucent to Avaya to let this type of work be done by them or vendors.

AT&T Technical Journal Jan 1985/System 75 Tell All, Wiring Panel





This is one of the figure pictures in the AT&T Technical Journal, and the tell all of the System 75 PBX. What’s interesting about the wiring is modular, I’m not sure if the RJ45 jacks come from Amphenol to the cross connect or the voice drops.  I thought most System 75 setups in those days (and probably in the mid 90s) were 66 blocks where you’d take an Amphenol from the PBX and ether splice the wires to a 66 block or plug in it if the block had a female Amp adaptor.

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