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Western Electric Data Phones

Started by paul-f, December 21, 2014, 04:52:10 PM

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paul-f

Cleaned up two vintage Data Phones over the weekend -- a 401E (1963) and a 804A (1969). The 401E was a one way transmitter operating at 20 characters per second and the 804A had blazingly fast speed (for the 1960s) of "up to" 1200 bits per second. Imagine downloading your latest operating system update at that speed today!

The Princess component heritage is obvious in the internal front housing construction, dials, switchhooks and networks.

I added some internal photos to this page, which contains some history:
  http://www.paul-f.com/wexdp.html#DP

I was reminded of these sets when a 401E marketing brochure was contributed to the TCI Library --
  http://www.telephonecollectors.info/index.php/document-repository/doc_details/12141-401e-401f-data-sets-mar63-marketing-brochure
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twocvbloke

Quote from: paul-f on December 21, 2014, 04:52:10 PMImagine downloading your latest operating system update at that speed today!

Wish some of the "broadband" providers over here, it's not that hard to imagine... :o

Phonesrfun

#2
Paul, those are great examples.  The "princess" connection is pretty clear, as you say.  A piece of equipment I used to use in my first accounting job in the early 1970's used one of the data phones.  We thought it was pretty fast and miraculous that data could be sent across the continent at such blazing speeds.  Remember the odd-ball AC plug that did not fit anything else?  They are probably impossible to find these days.

I also remember using a teletype machine to connect to a GE timeshare computer to run BASIC language programs on.  For that, we used a 300 baud acoustic coupler where the handset of a phone was placed into foam rubber cups.  No hard-wired connections were needed, or allowed by the phone company.  We've come a long way.

-Bill G

Dave F

#3
Paul,

Thanks for starting this topic.  I absolutely love Data Phones, perhaps second only to Card Dialers.  I have several different varieties.

Here is one of my 113A originate-modems.  These were the granddaddies of all Data Phones, starting in the early 1960s.  Talk about blazing speed: This baby screams along at 10 CPS (characters/sec, 110 baud)!  Many 113s spent their working lives attached to 33ASR Teletype machines which also ran at 10 CPS.  Back in the old days, the computer labs at UCLA were overflowing with Teletype machines and 113 Data Phones.  The earliest incarnation of the internet (ARPANET), which originated in the UCLA lab where I worked, did in fact run at 110 baud.  This set goes with one of my 33ASRs, saved from oblivion about 30 years ago.

Edit:  In the interest of accuracy I should point out that the 100-series Data Phones were actually capable of operating at the rip-roaring rate of 300 baud; however, this was mostly reserved for the times when they were used in private-line service.  When used on the switched telephone network, they most often were limited to 110 baud.  Also, when used with Teletype machines of that era, the data rate was limited to 110 baud in all cases.

DF

paul-f

Bill,

Your age is showing (again)!   ;)

Not to be outdone in that department, I was given a series of acoustic couplers and early modems by clever employers who realized early on that having computer access at home meant that they could expect me to work, or at least be on call, 24/7.

I kept them as part of an office equipment collection for quite a while, but sold them over 10 years ago to make room to display phones.  I did keep a few photos, though.

Dave,

We really should compare collections some day.  It's too bad we live so far apart.  I'd love to see more of your Data Phones.  Let me know if you have or find the Data Set 103G or similar set with integrated card dialer.
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Dave F

Quote from: paul-f on December 23, 2014, 11:05:38 PM
<snip>
Dave,

We really should compare collections some day.  It's too bad we live so far apart.  I'd love to see more of your Data Phones.  Let me know if you have or find the Data Set 103G or similar set with integrated card dialer.
Paul,

In addition to the 113, I also have versions of: 202, 403, 602, 804.  As far as the 103 with the card reader goes, a phone which is both a Card Dialer and a Data Phone is probably as close to a dream phone as I could hope to find.  There is probably one sitting in a closet somewhere along with a few Mod 1 Picturephones and a big stack of AUTOVON cards!  Trust me, if I ever run across one, I will do my best not to let it get away.

DF

Dave F

In the early1960s, computers were not yet very capable, hugely expensive, and just plain huge.  Many occupied one or more large rooms, complete with hollow floors for running cables and 24/7 dedicated air conditioning systems. The only entities that could afford them were the military, large corporations and university research labs.  Home computers were just dreams in the minds of a few visionaries.  In addition, saying that data transfer rates were slow would be to demean the word "slow".  The internet was still just a military experiment-in-progress, and computer data were sent over the telephone voice network at 10 CPS (110 baud).  That's the way it was when Western Electric introduced the 100 series of Data Phones.  Specific models, like the 113A, could dial out (originate) while others could only be auto-answer receivers.  Some others could do both.  In any case, the number of computers connected to the network in those early days was very small.  Consequently, the number of Data Phones manufactured amounted to a mere drop in the bucket when contrasted with the millions of regular telephone sets.  For this reason, the number of surviving early Data Phones is very small.  You can see just how few show up for sale in places like eBay.

Shown below is the inside of the 113A.  It is interesting to note that those early Data Phones did not require any external AC or DC power for their operation, as the modem was powered by the phone line to which it was connected.

Some of the later, larger units, such as the 202C and the 602C, are magnificent examples of the quality construction that we all have come to expect from W.E.  The quantity of "stuff" crammed professionally into those small housings is real eye-candy.  When I have time, I'll dig out some of those sets and post more pictures.

DF

HarrySmith

It looks like an entire Princess chassis, including dial & ringer, mounted in the front of that unit. Is that what it is?
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434
TCI

"There is no try,
there is only
do or do not"

Phonesrfun

#8
Pretty close.  Although the base here is a flat piece of metal, and doesn't have the princess dial light.  Everything else with the phone part is the same.  It saved them money by not having to reinvent the wheel.

Notice they also used what I am sure is a stock key switch from the older 1A2 sets with round buttons.
-Bill G

Mr. Bones

Fascinating thread; thanks for the memories! :o

     I'm actually quite relieved that I'm not the only one who has utilzed cradle modems for a G handset to connect boxcar-sized mainframes to larger, room-sized mainframes. ::)

     Our HS main puter ate punchcards for a diet, and shat greenbar paper for output. No mouse, no keyboard, no monitor. All point to point wired, tubes, relays, etc.. Kept the room warm, at least. Maybe they upgraded to tape reels, after my time! ;)

     The principles learned then still apply today: GIGO. ;D

Best regards!
Sl√°inte!
   Mr. Bones
      Rubricollis Ferus

Phonesrfun

In the early '70's our company ditched the unit record equipment and the 029 keypunches, and bought an IBM 360 in the home office.  Our branch office had a TTY machine where all the orders and cash payments were entered on a pre-formatted form and recorded on a tape machine that stood as high as a desk and was about 24 inches wide.  There was a data phone in the base of the tape machine.  Before leaving at night, we re-wound the tape and waited for the mainframe to call the tape terminal later in the evening.

After all the tape machines in the whole system across the country were called, the mainframe chugged away and did all the nightly processing.  Once complete, either late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, the mainframe would call another machine and download the daily reports, which were then printed out on another, faster TTY machine that had a wide carriage.  The next day, we would come into work and rewind the machine and print reports.  Due to the fact that there were always either formatting errors, bad connections, or just about any other reason imaginable, a guy from the home office would always call us the next day to resolve all the errors.

Later in my career, I went to work for a bank that had a huge mainframe in the basement and had 3270 80-column CRTs scattered about certain data input stations  The only office machines we had on our desks was an adding machine.

In those days, after the data phones the CRTs were all connected with coax.  However in the early and mid 70's if you happened to see a data phone in a business, you knew they were cutting edge.
-Bill G

paul-f

Quote from: HarrySmith on December 24, 2014, 08:46:24 PM

It looks like an entire Princess chassis, including dial & ringer, mounted in the front of that unit. Is that what it is?


Probably an 11-type apparatus unit.

Check out BSP 501-415-101 in the TCI LIbrary.

  http://www.telephonecollectors.info/index.php/document-repository/doc_details/9098-501-415-101-i1-dec66-apparatus-units-in-customer-owned-enclosures
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