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

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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Unravelling Avaya’s Many Mistakes, part two

From a follower of mine, quoted via email and permission to post. The context was in an answer to a question if they called Colorado before most of the developer operations were outsourced India and what was it like to call Colorado over India. Westminster, where most of the enterprise Avaya products were created over thirty years ago were developed and supported. This is where customers who had the money could talk to technical support at the developer level (Tier 3). I believe this was also the technical support for all of the enterprise systems.  And that dial-up modem number under system-parameters-maintence options screen would dial to.

I guess “Once Upon a Time” would be the best metaphor.

To be honest, our business partner pretty much handled all of our queries before that point, and I think would even call in equipment repair/replace orders on our behalf.  Then at some point as [redacted Avaya Business Partner] grew, they basically said, “you’re not paying us for support/maintenance, you’re paying Avaya, you’ll have to call them.. “ I also found out that we could shift our maintenance/support from Avaya to [redacted BP again] (obviously for a little more money) but Avaya actually frowns on that behavior from their business partners.  The way I was told it was like this… If you approached your BP about taking over your maintenance,  then Avaya would begrudgingly let it happen.  However, it is considered bad form for business partners to proactively offer and push that service to their customers.  (Don’t quote me on this..) that Avaya might even threaten a BP’s status as a BP if they found too many support contracts being converted in this fashion.  Now… what does that say about Avaya?  I don’t know about new support contacts, but certainly this was the attitude regarding converting existing contracts.

I won’t quote you, but it makes sense because without conclusive evidence, it kinda is reminiscent to the reply in an earlier series of this subject.

Remembering Avaya: NYS Govt | Albany, New York

Some photos that never were posted (by accident.) They had been uploaded in 2012. I wanted to post these sets on my other portals and wondered where they went.

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These phones were tied to an inhouse name called the CAPNET known as the Capital Region Network, at it’s height in the late 1980s, early 1990s using at least 80,000 lines on their private network across Albany, and other Capital Region locations and a branch office of 1740 Broadway in Manhattan, New York City. Every other state office building used other vendors, most notably the Nortel Centrex, the Meridian 1, and Cisco’s UCM line of products. I never knew NYS had been a heavy user of Avaya (and that goes without saying) at their flagship city till a decade ago.

Even more, there is no other network reportedly using this number of non IP-heavy lines in any of it’s thirty three year history of the modern day PBX marketed by Avaya today. A System 75 peaks at 600 to 1,200 lines; a System 85 maxed at 30,000, a 5th release of Definity G3r supported 25,000 lines; and most enterprises would link 75s and a few 85s but not in this scale. Documents via NYS’s IT agency and media reports in the late 1980s claimed then network used fiber and microwave plus the DCS linking protocol to link these ol AT&T PBX systems for transparent dialing across a desk, one of the four smaller buildings in Empire State Plaza, or across the Hudson River to a Troy based office. (Yeah, I’m a New York geek, both the city and upstate, I’ll admit I visited NYS/NYC more as a child/teenager then I did with Boston and Southern New England and as an adult.)

The pictured room above had 8400 sets. So this is the Senate Chambers, where the New York State Senate gathers. The Assembly, in an other wing, doesn’t have Avaya sets per se.

These previously posted pictures shown below is an Aastra telephone, of which I am not sure what they are. I will doubt it’s an intercom and/or basic telephones. They share the same shell as Cisco’s/Selisus VIP series sets.

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In January of 2017, some of the Large Carrier Cabinets were spotted on their eBay store. And I believe there were lucky bidders. The phone that sat on top of the carriers was a Cisco 6821. We know whose being replaced…

THIS the Reason for Avaya’s Demise?

This may become a reoccurring post, because there are so many reasons how the company fell part. Sales and Marketing may had a lot to do and a dysfunctional organization too.

Could Avaya’s failures be trying too hard to be a consumer brand? In this screengrab below, you can see Avaya is discussing digital disruption with “fintech” (don’t get me started with them bots!) and something about Disney’s MagicBand. How this applies to general Layer 1-3 or 4 & 5 networking is beyond me in this excerpt or even the original discussion that will divert you to another publication on the web.

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One of the things left to wonder is did Avaya just go off their core products and audience in the name of being a consumer brand and everything to everybody?