Based on the wire count and color code, I'll bet there was one of the old Simplex clocks there. It used several wires and was syncronized to a central clock. Those who remember the clock in thier school "jumping backwards" know what I'm referring to.
Mike, the only wire showing voltage was the one going to the receptacle, (which is blue)
MX has it right, this used to be where a Simplex style(the label in the can actually said Dukane)clock was.... there was just a regular clock hung over the opening though, plugged into that taped up outlet.
MY college Syracuse Univ had a system like this in their engineering building. Problem was that students kept stealing the expensive clocks (which would operate on ordinary 120VAC I heard) so maintenance just bought and used ordinary Telechron wall clocks plugged into the 120VAC feed. Using those outlets that would be used for snap fits into square holes in bathroom light fixtures (avoided exposed screws).
The problem with running the slave unit of those Simplex clock systems by itself; is that unless you have the master clock, you can't really set the time on the thing by itself.
At least one of the ones I saw in my old school (some professor had it hanging on a nail on the wall in his office and connected to a 110 volt socket via a chopped off piece of extension cord) didn't have a time-set knob on it.
The prof said he had to wait until it was about the right time that was showing on the clock and then he'd plug it in.
So...unless the students at Syracuse knew how to trigger the setting mechanism on these clocks, I wonder if they were probably stealing them just out of mischief?
EDIT: Couldn't whoever did this knockup of a job have just used a replacement female cord connector? Just as non-code but at least it would have been a bit...safer than an exposed in-wall receptacle.
[This message has been edited by SvenNYC (edited 10-19-2005).]