Phone of the Day: ROLM phone at the Local Bob’s Stores

a picture of a ROLM telephone on a post at a local Bob's Stores in Nashua, New Hampshire

This was taken at a local Bob’s Stores when the day after the New England Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl. (Roger That! Heh, heh, heh.) For this chain, ROLM is alive and well, to use the cliche. Because ROLM predates the Internet and modern day documentation, I have no idea what type of PBX or KSU it lives on. The set themselves is the 1990s generation, before they became German looking (possibly mid 1990s.) When ROLM was fully sold to Siemens, a few years later, they stopped selling their systems to America and incorporated ROLM features and their modernest designs. I’m not the expert in ROLM so forgive me.

Telephony 101: On Voice Mail

Some people love voice mail, many just hate it. Many are apparently so egotistical, they think it’s not worth listening to 2 minutes of a voice based message than a generic email.

People also think email is better, but do you know the history of voicemail?

if the answer is no, lets go down memory lane of Voice Mail.

Voicemail is often assumed to be an electronic answering machine on a server. While it’s true, its origins was almost similar to sending a letter or an email, just with spoken word.

The first indication of such language was in printed publications in 1877. A famous man named Thomas Edison with an invention called the phonograph. For the Gen-X audience and older, this is basically a record player. Millenials are probably familiar to just be cool for the latest trend. While it was well known for songs, the ability to record spoken word, as a way to replace letter writing had the possibility. The “voice mail” language was in the lexicon by the 1910s.

While the answering machine was invented in the 1960s, the ability to install these would be so cost prohibitive, and worse, a wiring nightmare. In the early 1970s, Motorola introduced pagers that provided one way voice messages that would be answered by an “answering center” (this in 2017 is completely archaic with the advent of digital telephony, automated attendants, in fact the size of these answering centers were the size of contact centers, which was not existent at the time.) These pagers used UHF signals and were often used for volunteer fire fighters, etc. In this sense, this could be considered as a voice message.

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Ugliest Operator Consoles, part nine

I’m the last guy to critique the look and feel of operator consoles. I’m not the guy who says “lookie… at this sleek and modern design of a set that doesn’t do anything significant” crap

This set (again found off an eBay listing) is an operator console for ROLM based PBX systems. Despite the last patch of their flagship 9100 systems probably of two decades; some sets are still in use.

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POTD: Ralph Lauren 5th Avenue Store

From little of what I know about Ralph Lauren, it appears they are an Avaya Red shop in some capacity (Joe the UCX Guy featuring an enterprise class) and my local outlet using a Partner (or I should use it in air quotes.)

I have my own opinions of Mister Ralph. a) I can never afford his stuff (the local Macy’s is once in a blue moon) b) I find it more suitable for older people (that Denim and Supply line, I mean really?) if not for older people then more Country Club-types. And of course c) he legally changed his last name from a borderline expletive to allegedly a film crush with the now late Lauren Bacall? Also am I supposed to be pronouncing his name like the female given name or the long e at the end?

Well anyways, here is a Siemens set taken from the sales floor on Saturday. The interesting question would be is did they go to Siemens or were they legacy ROLM users?

IMG_5733 IMG_5734

On the other hand here are some sets I didn’t (or wasn’t able to) capture but noticed

The Times Square Aeropostale uses an Avaya Blue Norstar system. For many years the non flagship Aeropostale stores used some analog Centrex, MPLS, or maybe VOIP terminated to analog phone service, up until the last couple months they had fallen into the Cisco bandwagon. Aeropostale is doing very lousy and is in danger of ether going out of business or being sold. Friday’s close was around a couple US dimes. What turned me away from there was all the shirts having these stupid embroidered fabric that is better for little kids. It’s hard to wash, then you have “loose” fabric, etc.

A Ruby Tuesday on the outskirts of Times Square had a Norstar system. (Nice service while I had lunch with the mother.)

The Apple Store on 5th Avenue (lousy service just like if you’re in the burbs. Another topic for another day) had clerks carrying around Cisco 7921 like wireless sets. This isn’t a surprise. Cisco has crept its way through Apple over the years, and now it’s gone to their VOIP or telephones. Most Apple Stores are still an Avaya IP Office shop with most of the wired sets tucked into drawers on the sales floors.

A Best Buy where I got better service, downtown a few blocks had Cisco.

The operations for the Fox News Channel still uses Avaya 8400 and 6400 sets. From what I know at the 1211 6th Ave facility, that the few first floors of the building are for FNC, Floors 7 to 8 (or 9?) is for The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s.

Once located at the World Financial Center (using a Meridian 1 system), they went to VOIP when the built the new facilities within 1211. An interesting note, on a blog I once found a picture of  Roger Ailes, the head of FNC having both an 8434 and a Cisco set. Without getting into a political discussion, it would not be a surprise he has a direct line to a paper that could favor his views. (WSJ is a joke today and I am a big fan of markets and corporate news.)

I did not set foot inside 30 Rock, but I’ve seen on MSNBC on cable with more and more Cisco 8900 sets. It’s apparent that NBC wants to do away with Avaya at least at their New York operations more and more. They relocated their Southland facilities from Avaya in Burbank to Cisco in Universal City 2 years ago, their other hubs in Texas has been wired to Cisco and I can go on and on seeing yet another customer of Avaya Red disappear.

Many financial institutions are using Cisco (walked by Capital One Bank, TD Bank, JPMorgan, etc.)

Phones @ Work: Macy’s – Bedford, NH

I’ve lived in this area my entire life, and always put on my hyper local bucket list to visit this Macy’s.


This soon to be closed Macy’s just at the split between Interstate 293 and the Everett Turnpike and will be sold to a developer and will be torn down and redeveloped for a strip mall.

The store opened in about 1966 – nearly 50 years ago as Jordan Marsh. The company was sold to Macy’s in the late 1990s and acquired the May Department Store chain, of regional branded stores, like Filenes. While Macy’s went into a buying spree (as Federated Department) in the late 90s, they would keep the old look as well as bringing in the bright white and red color scheme to parts of their stores.

Despite the May acquisition a decade ago, Macy’s made its mark at the nearby Mall of New Hampshire, taking the spot of the old Filenes. However they never closed the Bedford store at all.

I did get some closing deals, a couple socks for under $20, with an all sales final deal. The store is closing, but it’s being liquidated…it’s interesting how they are closing it.

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