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…

Phone of the Day: Avaya Red 7400 Series Voice Terminal – Macy’s 34th Street

Yours truly was Live from New York yesterday. Put it this way, I saw more Avaya Red sets this time around than Ciscos. A couple Avaya Blues here and there.

I don’t know much of the history of the original Macy’s. Macy’s went under 2 decades ago, and was sequentially boughtout by Federated Department stores that went on a buying spree of regional department stores; then in 2005 made their big buyout of the May Department Store chain of brands. Between the Federated and May buyouts Macy’s was in almost every mid sized city than prior to. Most of the Macy’s around where I live used to be the brands of Jordan Marsh and Filene’s both using/used ROLM CBX switches.

What’s interesting is I’ve been to Jordan Marsh/Macy’s stores and they had resemblance to the flagship 34th Street store, while former Filenes still has resemblance of the pre-Macy’s buyout, but by default all first level stores has that signature all white look. More non telephony related subjects to this store I set foot for the first time on the above link.

Now from what I can tell Macy’s uses an Avaya Red PBX. This one appears to go back in the System 75 days. Now I didn’t see if this thing worked, because in Release 14 (branded as 4.x)  of their enterprise PBX system, they depreciated the 7400s because the four-wire cards carried a lot of legacy code (from what I’ve read on the list serves, just dumping the 7400 DCP drivers gave Avaya some million lines of code removed.)

This particular model I forget, because AT&T made various models in the 10 year period, it may be a 7410 BIS set. Also, just because the 8400s released in the early 1990s, it was not a surprise to still have a part number (known as Comcodes or PECs) – I believe some models of the 7400 were still orderables in the first year of the Avaya spinoff (early 2000-late 2001.) If you were still on the 7400s at that point, Avaya did want you to go to the 6400 series (crap sets.)

More to come throughout the week.

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Exclusive: Profile of the Voice of AUDIX!

Welcome to AUDIX. For help at anytime, press star-H. Please enter your extension and pound sign.

Default AUDIX Login prompt

 In today’s special post, in continuing series of the early history of modern day Avaya PBX systems, you humble curator had actually reached out to the “Voice of Voicemail”, Lorraine Nelson. I would like to thank her for her cooperation with the project.

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Video: Local AT&T Ad for Colorado – 1987

“One company in Colorado designs and produces some of the world’s most sophisticated telecommunications  equipment. That company spends more than hundred million dollars for goods and services with nearly 2,700 local suppliers. And that company helps support local charities and the arts with over a million dollars and 1,500 volunteers.

That company is AT&T. At Home in Colorado.”

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As many the Avaya Red geeks out there would know the Westminster, Colorado facility was where most of the enterprise systems for AT&T, later Lucent then Avaya (including products such as the System 75, Definity, etc) was developed, produced and served locations for technical support (remember the Definity Helpline?)

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Within a couple years after Divestiture, AT&T had tried to refine their brand such as the the infamous tagline “The right choice”. This commercial taken from a newscast from KCNC-TV in Denver (not to far away from Westminster) apparently was designed for the Colorado market, focusing on their local suppliers and returning their favor to non profits, featuring children at the Denver Children’s Museum with kids playing with old sets, and a girl playing with a 7405 or 7434 set.

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Years have gone by, and Westminster is like many other high tech facilities in America. Abandoned and ether outsourced or off shored development to people who had no knowledge of the systems from its early years. Sadly the old AT&T legacy is going further into earth than say the other legacy IS systems and equipment. I don’t see the same outrage with actions like startups such as Emetrotel or even VMS Software (yes the same VMS as in Open VMS hiring local DEC coders basically from retirement to continue to develop that operating system!) No, it’s a slow death for Avaya Red. Westminster does still exist, and Avaya is still there, just it’s not all centralized like it once did.

This is one of the unique AT&T commercials of that time.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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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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!

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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.