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#136697 - 04/30/03 05:08 AM ZYLMURBAFI
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
These wierd letters are the letters that were used on Austrian phone dials from 1927 until the early 1960ies.
Letters were:
1 I
2 F
3 A
4 B
5 R
6 U
7 M
8 L
9 Y
0 Z

Read backwards you get the nickname of these old phones - ZYLMURBAFI. Subscriber numbers were 1 letter, 5 numbers, e.g. A 25 387. In my area the changeover occurred in 1961, in 1962 the numbers were changed again (from letters to 32 xx xx, then to 34 xx xx and 34 xx xxx)
I've never seen a real ZYLMURBAFI, it seems that the dials were all changed. Today there are only very few rotary phones in service, the post office took them back during the changeover to digital switching, only by special request you could keep them, many people were even made believe that rotary phones don't work any more.

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#136698 - 05/02/03 02:43 AM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Somebody over on a telecoms forum mentioned that a kid who upon seeing a rotary dial phone for the first time had no idea how to use it! He'd never seen anything but TouchTone phones before!

Was there any significance to the choice of letters on those old Austrian dials? Or for the peculiar sequence?

In the early days of dial service in some American cities the local phone companies also used their own peculiar dial arrangements with the first digit of the number listed as a letter. Perhaps N,S,E, or W for the points of the compass or by using something relating to a local neighborhood, e.g. R for Riverside. I think it would have been mostly the independent companies in those very early days, as the Bell System remained very operator-oriented.

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#136699 - 05/02/03 06:13 AM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
This is all I know about it. I got the information from a web site that was rather inaccurate. For example it said that letters were used only until 1948, but this was only the time when the new system was introduced, the changeover took until about the mid 1960ies.
When a friend of one of my younger brothers visited us (I guess he was 8 or 9 back then) suddenly our phone rang. The kid was completely confused until I answered the phone. He'd never heard a phone with a real bell in it.

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#136700 - 05/02/03 12:51 PM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
SvenNYC Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 1685
Loc: New York City
I grew up in a house with a "real phone" -- a Western Electric #500 (standard issue telephone until the 1980s). It was ivory, but tended to look more pink to me.

My mom didn't get touch-tone until 1994 when she decided to buy a telephone/answerer combo. It had one of those electronic buzzers that sounded like a cricket.

A few years later I moved out and found the old phone. Some cleaning and replacing of the cracked and worn modular connectors (easily obtained from an electronics parts vendor) the phone was as good as new.

I also had to replace the earpiece. For some reason it had gone bad from years of non-use. The friendly phone company guy at work helped me with that one and got me the little speaker!

After years of living with these electronic beepers at home, the sound of a ringing bell took some getting used to. The first couple of days I would visibly jump and get startled at the loud RING! RING! RING!

A ZYLMURBAFI???hahaha! Man, you Austrians are weird....but I love you anyway!

(hope to visit Vienna some day, it seems like my kind of city ... OLD!)

I now have two #500s (black and ivory with the real dial), a #2500 (pushbutton version in black) and a Princess phone (pushbutton, found in garbage pile). I "rotate" them regularly (only have one phone box in the flat).

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#136701 - 05/03/03 06:47 AM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
I've seen lots of old phones with shot mouthpieces. In my experience, the Schrack mouthpieces used in Austrian phones go bad much more often than the earpieces.
I have about every model that was released by our GPO from 1948 onwards wired as extensions. These are Kapsch or Schrack (2 companies that had more or less a monopoly on phone equipment) W48 (wall or desk phone, available in chamois (yellowish white) and black, I only got the desk phone, and a color that officially didn't exist, caramel.)
W74 (wall and desk phone in chamois, light grey and desk phone in a beautiful dark red, _very_ rare. I have the chamois and grey desk phone and a chamois wall phone)
W80 (available in various colors, with rotary dial, I got a Post Office yellow one), TAP 80 (keypad, without redial and similar extra functions, same colors as W80)
TAP 80K (touchtone dial with redial etc., still in widespread use, the wall phone looked like W74 with keypad),
TAP90 (flat, modern phone, all electronic) and T95 (today's phone, very flat, ugly dark grey with green keypad).
I grew up with a chamois W74 party line phone, until 1992 when we got digital switching and a blue TAP 80K plus a red TAP 90 on an extension.
Now I've got a black W48 on my desk, and when I'm really busy working on my computer the bell almost gives me a heart attack, even though I have the phone since 1999.

Hey, it's 1920ies humor, you can't expect to be able to find out what a GPO official back then was thinking! I'm not even sure if the letter sequence is actually correct, but I know it was something weird, so it could be correct.
Besides, we think the Americans are weird, probably we're just different.
You'll really like Vienna, it's a nice oldfashioned city, even though we keep getting new futuristic buildings everywhere.
One advantage some of my classmates found during their stay in NYC: You don't get decapitated when sticking your head out of an old window! *gg* (We have mostly casement windows instead of the US guillotine types, and in NYC most of us lived in rather rundown houses)

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#136702 - 05/04/03 02:36 AM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
It will come as no surprise to those of you who are aware of my telecoms background that I have quite a few old phones around the house!

I grew up in England with the GPO 700-series, which was the nearest British equivalent of the Western Electric 500. I also have some older WE-500 phones, the pre-modular types and a Princess rotary-dial model.

On the lovely sound of the old bells, some frineds of mine nearby have just been remodeling their home and I've just supplied them with an ex-Bell System 500 set in yellow for their living room.

Apparently it made for quite a conversation piece when some relatives visited them recently. They love the sound of the ring (more pleasant-sounding than that of the old British 700 phones), although it made one of the kids jump when it rang right next to him! I guess he'd never heard anything but the modern chirp-chrip phone either.

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#136703 - 05/04/03 10:48 AM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
djk Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
Paul,

Interestingly Eircom (or Telecom Eireann / P&T as it was) in Ireland generally supplied Northern Telecom phones

This was the pretty standard one from nortel from the early 1980s on:

(I think this could be a BT version.. ours had (R) (*) and (#) since they launched.

This was the other standard issue phone (Designed in Denmark):


and who can accuse Telecom Eireann of having no taste. This phone was around for a while: quite a popular 1980s st patricks day gift! Extremely valuable collectable item.

In the P&T days these were the norm:

Previously they were a little more like this and came in Black, Ivory (kinda beige), or Red..



These were practically unbreakable ...

There was a wall mounted version that looked like this:


(ours were identical but without generally without the dial letters)

Not all that similar to BT / GPO.



[This message has been edited by djk (edited 05-04-2003).]

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#136704 - 05/05/03 08:03 AM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
SvenNYC Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 1685
Loc: New York City
DJK,

That black one with the rotary dial is the Western Electric #500. That's the one I grew
up with (in ivory)!! I also found the black one in the trash some years ago at school.

Also, who remembers the British GEC GEC-O-Phone? Similar looking to the American 500 but the handset was bigger and more delicate looking and more ergonomic I think.

I have a very shoddy example at home. The case has a missing chunk in a corner and the coiledhandset cord has a tear in the outer jacket and is missing the strain relief grommet that goes into the receiver. It still works though (I have to redo the bell also - new capacitor).

It belongs(ed) to my grandmother....she installed it in her house in Colombia when she lived there.

I'm looking for an example in much better shape, but alas they're not found here in the 'States....I also need a new coiled handset cord and grommet for the one I have. Wonder if they're still easy to get.

[This message has been edited by SvenNYC (edited 05-05-2003).]

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#136705 - 05/05/03 10:25 AM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
djk Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
They must have been made to a very similar design (or possibily the same design). It's definitely made by Northern Telecom the one here even says "Northern Telecom" and "P+T" on the dial.

On the bottom "Northen Telecom, Made in Ireland" and a little metal wheel for adjusting the volume of the bell.

Wired up to a "headphone jack" style (but with 4 rings) old P+T connector .. (pre 1978 when they started installing RJ11 sockets)

.....


.....

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#136706 - 05/06/03 05:13 AM Re: ZYLMURBAFI
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
It took me a few seconds to figure out the shape of that green wall phone -- It's certainly distinctive!

I'm wondering if that black 500 set pictured was made for Canada. The normal American version would have "Operator" marked on the zero digit, but I've seen several come from the Canadian market which omit that. Can any of our members from Great White North confirm whether the absence of the "operator" marking on zero was the norm for Canada?

Some of the other non-Bell companies made 500-style phones, but with some minor variations. If you look at some Automatic Electric/Stromberg Carlson models, for example, you see that the dial spacing was slightly different so that the zero ended up right at the bottom.

Here's a British GPO 746 phone in mustard yellow:



This type was introduced around 1967, although the 706 model it replaced was very similar.

The internal layout is different than the 500 sets:




Compared to this GPO model, the 500 has the bells at the rear and the network circuitry incorporated into a sealed unit.

The GPO 700-series handsets are also quite a bit bulkier than the American WE500 equivalents.

{ Edit on 4/22/05 due to images no longer being where they were 2 years ago! }



[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 04-22-2005).]

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