Author Topic: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!  (Read 8321 times)

Offline HarrySmith

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2016, 08:51:01 PM »
Awesome! Great find and great cleanup. These prototype sets are always so interesting. You could probably find a replacement switch to fit if you wanted to change it to work better.
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Offline Duffy

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2016, 09:52:54 PM »
Awesome! Great find and great cleanup. These prototype sets are always so interesting. You could probably find a replacement switch to fit if you wanted to change it to work better.

Thanks Harry,

I think trying to find a replacement button would be rather difficult. Since this is a non-production phone. The button was trimmed to work with this phone, so that makes it one of a kind button. I think I'm going to leave it as is. Just because of what it is. I took more pictures of the modified body versus the stock body. There has been some discussions between myself and some other members as to weather this phone is a prototype or a beta phone. Some things we do know is it is a non-production phone, it has been modified to work as a speaker phone from a stock body. There is no model number stamped anywhere on the modified base only hand written numbers.

Any other members care to chime in as to what you think?

CDN Doug

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2016, 01:03:27 AM »
CDN Doug (Autonut) doesn't know it yet but he started a NT SG1 "Pulse" PABX topic in the Switching PABX area.

http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=16014.0

I thought maybe the SG1 "Pulse" talk didn't need to be cluttering up the Contempra Speakerphone topic.

CDN Doug: If you get a picture of the.....framed picture.... You can add it to the new topic at the link above.

Terry
« Last Edit: April 05, 2016, 05:29:02 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline Duffy

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2016, 04:04:59 AM »
Terry,

Thanks for doing that. The picture will be here this Friday. I will get a picture of it posted ASAP. The lady that has it, has taken it to one of her friends who also worked there. They are working on getting all the names of the people in the picture, then she is going to give it to her stepdaughter. My friend told me that her late husband's ex-wife was one of the lady's in the picture and that she as also passed away. Funny how small this world is, that picture will be now be going back in the hands of someone who it will have some meaning too.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2016, 04:10:33 AM by Autonut »
CDN Doug

Offline paul-f

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2016, 03:51:07 PM »
The switch set up isn’t very good, as a matter of fact in downright cheaply made. It looks like a hack job. The toggle switch is a momentary switch. Push and hold it on and you hear whatever is coming though the handset on the speaker, let it go and it is off.

Thanks for the great detailed switch knob photos. It's a strange construction, with the contacts on the back of a board attached to the bottom plate, while the knob is on the housing, where it can be removed.
 
The video suggests the switch doesn't latch in the on position and the unit drops out of speaker mode after finger pressure is released.
 
Is it possible that there is a missing part that would assure more positive switch action?
 
Or, could the switch contacts have been bent when the housing was removed and replaced? Perhaps they need mechanical adjustment.
 
Or, if the switch was indeed intended to be momentary, should the two contacts in the base activate a latching relay to keep the unit in speaker mode?
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Offline Duffy

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2016, 04:21:30 PM »
Paul,

Here are some pictures of the board opening for the switch from different angles. The body goes on and then the button, then the cover plate.
CDN Doug

Offline paul-f

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2016, 05:01:25 PM »
Thanks for the photos, Doug.
 
Can you see enough through the hole to deduce how the switch contacts are intended to work?
 
Perhaps some contact cleaning or mechanical adjustment will help the switch function.
 
An observation: This is the type of design element that occasionally popped up in the Western Electric Field Trial sets in the 1960s. Something that seemed like a good idea to the designers occasionally proved to have actual or potential reliability problems when built and put into use. Some models were scrapped or redesigned to include more robust designs from a reliability or manufacturability standpoint. The Trimline design timeline is full of examples.
 
Of course, this doesn't prove it was a prototype, but adds more weight to that side of the scale. It's hard to imagine a manufacturing engineer being thrilled with this feature.
 
 
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Offline Duffy

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2016, 05:58:37 PM »
Thanks for the photos, Doug.
 
Of course, this doesn't prove it was a prototype, but adds more weight to that side of the scale. It's hard to imagine a manufacturing engineer being thrilled with this feature.

Paul, As the subject line says: Possible Prototype Phone and emphasis on Possible.

When I picked this phone up, I just thought it was another Contempra Phone with buttons. I have not been in the collecting of phones very long. So what to call it, I didn't know. Hence the reason for "possible prototype" after seeing the difference between a stock phone and this one. I also seen there where no indication of model numbers other then the sticker Bell - Northern Research Contempra 111 Line Cord and the hand written number 23. Far as I knew that sticker was stock for the line cord and still could be. But that sticker was not used on production phones. So is this phone number 23 of ? who knows? Is it a rare prototype, concept, trial, test, sample? I don't know. Call it what you will, what I do know is that it not a common phone. The Contempra phone has been around a few years before this phone was put together. I'm only basing my thoughts of this being an uncommon phone because of the speaker and volume controls add on. Take that away and you have just an regular stock Contempra phone that has already been around for a number of years. So with that being said. It could Possibly be a prototype of the Contempra speaker phone, not the stand alone stock Contempra.

<EDIT> The title of this subject did initially include the phrase "Possible Prototype found" but was later changed awhennit was merged with a second topic about the phone. Terry (AE_Collector)
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 08:07:47 PM by AE_Collector »
CDN Doug

Offline Duffy

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2016, 09:48:01 AM »
The Contempra Speaker Phone that I picked up, has now been confirmed that it is indeed a Prototype. I contacted the designer John Tyson by snail mail this week.

He replied to me by e-mail. In his email, he says that it indeed was "a unique one-of-kind prototype that I designed and had built in Ottawa", He goes on to say. "Clearly ahead of its time, Bell Canada probably thought it wouldn´t sell in the residential market, preferring a speaker phone for business" - the end result is, it never went into production.

I replied to him and thanked him for his great information.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 08:10:21 PM by AE_Collector »
CDN Doug

Offline paul-f

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2016, 01:31:46 PM »
The Contempra Speaker Phone that I picked up, has now been confirmed that it is indeed a Prototype. I contacted the designer John Tyson by snail mail this week.

He replied to me by e-mail. In his email, he says that it indeed was "a unique one-of-kind prototype that I designed and had built in Ottawa", He goes on to say. "Clearly ahead of its time, Bell Canada probably thought it wouldn´t sell in the residential market, preferring a speaker phone for business" - the end result is, it never went into production.

I replied to him and thanked him for his great information.

This is exciting news, Doug!
 
I'm sure there is more to be learned.
 
Obviously it's not literally "one-of-a-kind," as two different sets have been photographed. It would be natural to have produced several with serial improvements and possibly a batch of them for evaluation and testing.

It would be interesting to also learn anything about the development process, how many versions were made and whether there were any interesting pro or con lessons learned.
 
Interacting with John is an outstanding opportunity to learn more about this and other NE research projects. Perhaps he has some records or recollections he would consider sharing so they can be archived in the collector community.

Several years ago, we learned a lot about the WE/Bell Labs process through discussions with Don Genaro of the Dreyfuss organization. This could be a similar opportunity. Wow!
 
Note that after so many years it's possible that John may not remember details about one specific product. Don Genaro made that point when we questioned him about nuances of the Trimline development. I know I don't remember much about products I worked on in the 1960s and 70s.
 
It would help to document your conversations for future collectors and researchers. There are examples of documenting the Don Genaro conversations in these issues of TCI's Singing Wires:
 
SW May 1991 - Designworks (reprint)
 
SW Oct 2004 - A Conversation with Donald Genaro
                 by Jonathan Finder
 
SW Jan 2009 - THE EARLY DAYS OF THE WESTERN ELECTRIC 500
                  by Russ Cowell and Paul Fassbender
 
SW Mar 2009 - Update on 1950/51 WECo Dial Number Rings
                (SW Editorial Advisory Board)
 
SW Jul 2009 - Singing Wires Talks to Donald Genaro
                by Jonathan Finder
 
SW Aug 2010 - Designing the Touchtone Dial
              by Jonathan Finder

« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 08:11:32 PM by AE_Collector »
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Offline Duffy

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2016, 03:24:55 PM »
I received another e-mail from John Tyson this morning. Here is what he said:

 Hi Doug,

First of all I must correct a typo. BNR was founded in ’71 (I should know I designed the corporate identity). :)

It’s likely that the BNR sticker was required (with a serial number) for carrying a prototype across the border and through US customs. That might account for the blue one. The hand written numbers probably don’t mean anything relative to number made. They were all custom built. My best guess is just a few.

Most of the BNR prototypes went to Bell Canada’s History Museum in Montreal. After they closed, a lot of the collection went to the National Museum of  Technology in Ottawa.

Thanks for the link to Imagination Series.  Very successful, we designed them all in Ottawa. My favourite, and most valuable collector, is AGP (Alexander Graham Plane).

The real leather Contempra was shipped from Nashville to Italy for fabrication, and was mostly used as corporate  gifts by Northern. I have one. The America Club Sets are awful and probably asian rip-offs, (junk).

Congratulations on your collection. I love the thought of your grandchildren having so much fun.

All the best.

John
CDN Doug

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2016, 04:26:51 PM »
All pretty cool stuff! I find it amazing how many different telephone set models NE and NT must have made over the years. Even on relatively boring analog sets say for use behind PBX's there seemed to be endless variations made by NT. I would have two or three almost identical in the same case but a different button or two for some feature and then I would run into yet another version at another installation. Then add in all the sets marketed for residential and all the Norstar, M1 (SL1) Meridain, and NT Centrex sets, then into VOIP and all the other specialty sets not covered in these categories. It boggles the imagination.

I was going to merge the two topics on this phone back together with a title similar to the title on this topic. I think most find it preferable to keep all the talk about a specific phone together in one location. Many times a discussion starts in the Yard Sale or Auction Talk categories but eventually progresses to where it should rightfully be in a different category as it no longer really matters where it came from such as this phone.

But, I cant decide for certain....would Contempras rightfully be a Decorator / Design Line phone? I suspect that Contempra somewhat bridges the divide between more advanced regular Telco property telephones and Customer Owned Decorator type phones.

If no one has any other opinions on where Contempra's should really be here on CRPF or any objection to merging the two topics, I will do that later today. Meanwhile, keep the great info coming!

I knew that I had a few new spare Contempra cords here so I dug them out. All I have is dark green, red, gold, yellow and Beige. Some are 3 and some 4 conductor, some are 5.5 feet long and some are 13 feet long. Nothing 6 conductor. Somewhere I have a 2 line Contempra in either white or Ivory which I bet would have had a 6 conductor cord but no idea if it does now or not.

Terry
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 06:05:27 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline Duffy

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2016, 04:54:43 PM »
Terry,

Do what you think best for the thread. I only started a new thread because I wanted the members to know for sure what it is that I had come across. Paul F. has been a little iffy on whether it is what it is because of the picture of the one on his site. Saying it still isn't a one of a kind as the designer / creator says it is. To quote John Tyson:

" How in the world the blue one ended up in the US will remain a mystery to me. That said, be assured that it is one of Very Few and all prototypes were made in Canada."

If there was one made in every colour, that would make each and every one of them one of a kind. I'm just hoping that more information on this line of prototypes comes in the near future. 

A 4 wire would work as it would only be for L1, L2 and power for the speaker.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 05:27:47 PM by Autonut »
CDN Doug

Offline paul-f

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2016, 05:45:10 PM »
All pretty cool stuff! I find it amazing how many different telephone set models NE and NT must have made iver the years. Even on relatively boring analog sets say for use behind PBX's there seemed to be endless variations made by NT. I would have two or three almost identical in the same case but a different button or two for some feature and then I would run into yet another version at another installation. Then add in all the sets marketed for residential and all the Norstar, M1 (SL1) Meridain, and NT Centrex sets, then into VOIP and all the other specialty sets not covered in these categories. It boggles the imagination.

Terry, This is exactly the kind of thinking that got us started on the WE 500-series chart on my site. Someone really needs do do the same for NE/NT sets so we can understand them all and keep them straight.
 
I was going to merge the two topics on this phone back together with a title similar to the title on this topic. I think most find it preferable to keep all the talk about a specific phone together in one location. Many times a discussion starts in the Yard Sale or Auction Talk categories but eventually progresses to where it should rightfully be in a different category as it no longer really matters where it came from such as this phone.
 
But, I cant decide for certain....would Contempras rightfully be a Decorator / Design Line phone? I suspect that Contempra somewhat bridges the divide between more advanced regular Telco property telephones and Customer Owned Decorator type phones.
 
If no one has any other opinions on where Contempra's should really be here on CRPF or any objection to merging the two topics, I will do that later today. Meanwhile, keep the great info coming!

I agree that the topics should be merged to make the info easier to find.
 
The Contempra was in use long before the "Imagination Series" was formed, and was added once it was created.  When my page went live, there was a lot of discussion about the Imagination line being primarily (or exclusively) used in the US by Northern's operation in Nashville, TN.
 
Therefore, while there are Imagination branded boxes for some Contempras, it is probably better to have a Contempra section that is outside the Decorator/Design Line area. The problem is where?
 
Maybe there should be major categories for the major phone models, including at least the Contempra, WE 300-series, WE 500-series, WE 1500-series, etc.  That would keep the moderators busy for quite a while!
 
Thanks for all you do helping create some order from our random posts!
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Offline paul-f

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Re: 1971 NE Contempra Speakerphone Prototype found at a Thrift Shop!
« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2016, 06:15:17 PM »
 
Doug,
 
Don't misinterpret my intent. All I am requesting is that we be open minded until we see tangible proof.
 
In the case of the American Club sets, I have owned and sold dozens of them and can assure all that they were made using a process patterned after the Contempra Talia (leather) sets John described. The difference is that the production Contempras from the Nashville plant were sent out for painting and leather covering by a company in North Carolina. They are definitely not asian rip-offs.
 
What we're doing is like archaeology -- trying to piece together the past given the remains available to us today.
 
It's great that we are learning more and we need to keep gathering facts.
 
All we can do now is keep digging, combine and compare our findings and hope we learn more over time.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 07:34:57 PM by paul-f »
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