Author Topic: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones  (Read 5025 times)

Offline AE_Collector

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AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« on: April 16, 2012, 02:14:19 AM »
Automatic Electric brought out the Styleline phone in the late 1960's, most likely in response to the Western Electric "Trimline" phone with the "dial in the handset". I am not certain what the earliest Styleline would have been but I have seen a couple of 1969 models so likely 1968 or so would be the earliest. My oldest is a 1969 and my most recent model is a 1985.

These were AE's first "Modular Phones" in that the handset and the base were packaged seperately with a connectorized handset cord between the two pieces. Not an "RJ" modular cord (that would come later) but rather the same "Big Plug" type cords that WECo was using on it's Trimline phones. The modular aspect of these phones allowed for Wall or Desk bases to be used with Rotary Dial or Touch Call handsets. While I don't think that the manufacturer intended this use, our "Phone Mart" stores eventually allowed people to mix and match colors as well, creating two tone phones.

Half way through the production period a major change was made to the AE Styleline where the old "Big Plug Cords" were changed to the newer modular "RJ" type handset cords. At the same time the bases of both the wall and desk phone changed from "pot metal" to plastic. The new wall base then came with the built in keyed slots and a plug for modular wall mounting where as previously it was a hardwired phone unless an adapter plate was fastened onto the back of it. The change from pot metal to plastic bases was made in 1978.

The handset was always a model 980. In the usual AE style, it didn't matter if it is a Rotary Dial Handset or a Touch Call Handset, it was a model 980. The desk base was a model 981 and a wall base a model 982. So AE Stylelines can be referred to as model 980's or if you want to be more specific you can call them 981 Desk Stylelines or 982 Wall Stylelines.

As the years went by more colors were introduced and probably a few were dropped eventually bringing a total of around 20 different colors for us collectors to try to locate. I am almost there but am still looking for a couple of pieces or combinations. It has taken a long time and I have acquired a lot of duplicates in the process!

I'll add more to this soon but for the moment, here are a few pictures of some of the colors.

First Picture - Desk Styleline collection early on.

Second Picture - Wall Styleline collection early on.

Third picture - Both Desk and Wall Stylelines together.

Fourth Picture - Sunny Yellow Wall Styleline

Fifth Picture - Tropic Green Wall Styleline

Sixth Picture - Candy Apple Red Wall Styleline

Terry



« Last Edit: April 17, 2012, 01:12:20 AM by AE_collector »

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 02:23:51 AM »
Here are a few more Styleline pictures.

First Picture - Three different Blue's available AND it shows the Big Plugs used on these phones. Left side is "Porcelain Blue", Centre is "Forget Me Not Blue" and Right is "Electric Blue"

Second Picture - I acquired A LOT of Stylelines in my quest to get two of each color. I wanted a Wall and a Desk Styleline, one with a Rotary Dial handset and the other a Touch Call handset. The second picture shows a group of "Lemonade" colored Stylelines ready for re-assembly.

Third and Fourth Pictures - An "Electric Blue" Desk Styleline in Touch call.

Fifth Picture - Three of the last colors introduced by AECo. Desert Sand, Woodgrain & Terra Cotta.

Sixth Picture - One of the most difficult for me to find was the Forest Green Styleline introduced very near the end of Styleline production and the end of Automatic Electric for that matter.

Terry
« Last Edit: April 17, 2012, 01:03:35 AM by AE_collector »

Online paul-f

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 10:22:59 AM »

      WOW!!

It's stunning to see them all together!

What's the color code for Woodgrain?  We need to add that one to the chart.
  http://www.paul-f.com/AEcolors.htm

Looking through my photo collection, I came across photos of clear sets, a box, a Styleline IV and a few mongrels to add to the archive.

How many Styleline models were there?  The color chart references 980A and 980B.


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Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2012, 10:58:25 AM »
The first "Collection Pictures" that I posted were taken several years ago now. I'll try to get some new pictures as both wall and desk collections have grown substantially since then.

I was going to include a Clear Styleline (also from the Jim S. collection!) but ran out of room.

I haven't seen that Styleline Box before. It looks like an actual GTE Styleline box as opposed to one that the blue "featured" Styleline came in. The Blue Styleline you posted is an Asian made model trying to fill the gap created when AECo shut down production but they didn't last long, no pun intended!

There are apparently two different Woodgrain models. I snagged the first one (that I posted pics of) on ebay and the seller had another that she was supposed to notify me of when she was ready to sell it. Of course she forgot and I happened upon the completed listing one day several years ago. The sellers father had worked for AE and the woodgrain models were the very last attempt to put out something to keep sales going. She said they were Sales Samples. I was left with the impression that they never made it into production on time. I wish I had managed to get the second one too which had a differet woodgrain pattern.

I have never seen the three (or four!) tone variety you posted! Easy to do as only two screws fasten the back to the handset.

Terry
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 11:12:03 AM by AE_collector »

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 11:55:10 AM »
Thanks, Terry.

The photo of the box and the Styleline IV do not go together.

Were there also Styleline I, II and III models?

Here's a  more common Styleline box...
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Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 01:30:03 PM »
I have never heard reference to Styleline 1, 2, 3 or 4 models myself. I am not sure if that reference would make all of the AECo models "Styleline 1's" or possible Styleline 1's (desk) and Styleline 2's (wall) with a Styleline 3 and 4 being the later Asian models. The Aian models were probably able to be desk or wall models all in one. I have seen a phone similar to the "Styleline 4" that you posted above that is similar but has fewer extra buttons so that model might potentially be a "Styleline 3".

I never really saw the "fancy" Styleline boxes designed for direct customer sales, most of what I have seen were the generic corrugated cardboard boxes as supplied to Telco's. I have a couple of them and can add pictures of them here....soon.

Interesting that the color on the box you posted above is "Rust". Rust was never an official Styleline color to the best of my knowledge. I'll bet it was really a Terra Cotta Styleline. The picture on the box shows it to be an AECo Styleline rather than a Styleline 3 or 4 made in Asia that potentially could have had completely different color names and possibly different colors as well.

Terry
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 01:42:11 PM by AE_collector »

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 05:08:42 PM »
I'd agree that someone tinkered with the name.  Maybe Rust uses less ink on the labels.

The set looks like the color of your Terra Cotta set and the color code (36) appears on the box and set.

The handset is in a plastic bag with a small sticker with a handwritten 8 and printed 75.  Could that or the 84136 on the box be a date code?  Or does GTE keep us guessing and both codes mean something entirely different?
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 05:12:28 PM by paul-f »
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Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2012, 10:46:04 PM »
I do recall seeing those little stickers on things from AE in the 80's but I don't know what the interpretation of them is. It can't really be a date because this newer version (plastic base) Styleline didn't arrive until about 1978 and the color Terra Cotta was even later than that.
 
It is possile that the 84136 number is a date following AE's dating convention of the AE80 and AE90 type phones. That was YYMM and another digit or two on the end that did not represent the day but rather was either a plant or shift code. 84 could easily be a year but of course 13 can't be a month. Maybe they changed to a "Week of the Year" code format by then and we would still have to invent something for the final 6 to represent. We are also assuming that it is total coincidence that this 5 digit number ends in 36, the same code number that represents terra Cotta.

84 as the year, 1 as the month and 36 as the color is possible since I did find an Ink Stamp date on the base of the phone by enlarging the base picture. It looks like 30 November 83 or 89 but 89 isn't possible. These plastic base phones along with many of the 80E and 182/192 plastic based phones had Ink Stamped dates on the base in an Ink color that isn't always easy to read.

Do you have this phone or are they harvested pictures? A closer inspection of the Ink Stamp on the base might be interesting.

Here is a list of AE Styleline colors produced over the years along with their color code and some of the typical "AE" anomalies:

Ebony Black - 00

Sand Beige - 10 (also see Beige - 31)

Avocado Green - 12 (also see code 32)
Traditionaly with AE, code 12 was "Jade Green" rather than "Avocado Green". By the time the Styleline was introduced there were no plans to produce one in Jade Green but Avocado Green WAS in the plans so AE decided to "reuse" code 12 for Avocado on Stylelines. In later years they changed the Avocado code to 32 for some reason.

Classic Ivory - 13

Turquoise - 15

Lemonade - 17 (light YELLOW)
Traditionaly with AE, code 17 was "Sunlight Yellow" rather than the lighter "Lemonade" yellow. By the time the Styleline was introduced there were no plans to produce one in Sunlight Yellow but Lemonade WAS in the plans so AE decided to "reuse" code 17 for Lemonade on Stylelines. Things got worse years later when it was decided to go ahead and make a Sunlight Yellow Styleline (Not Sunny Yellow, that's different again) and call it Autumn Gold. Autumn Gold wound up with color code 29 even though it is the same yellow as Sunlight Yellow (17) on AE model 80's and 90's.
 
Camellia Pink - 18

Gardenia White - 19 (white white!)

Antique White - 21 (Darker than Gardenia White but not as dark as Classic Ivory)

Espresso Brown - 22

Tropic Green - 23 (very bright GREEN)

Electric Blue - 24 (very bright BLUE)

Tangerine Oronge - 25 (very bright ORONGE)
 
Candy Apple Red - 26 (very Bright RED)

Porcelain Blue - 27 (even lighter than "Forget Me Not Blue)
 
Sunny Yellow - 28 (very bright YELLOW)
 
Autumn Gold - 29 (same as Sunlight yellow on AE 80 and 90 phones)
 
Forget Me Not Blue - 30 (medium light BLUE)
 
Beige - 31 (No idea if this is different than Sand Beige - 10 or not)
 
Avocado Green - 32
I think this was a "record keeping change" in later years as Avocado Green was originally code 12 on Stylelines. Color Code - 12 was a different color "Jade Green" on AE 80's and 90's.
 
Desert Sand - 35 (Coffee Mocha color, darker than Beige / Sand Beige)
 
Terra Cotta - 36 (Apparently also called "Rust")
 
Forest Green - 37 (Dark Green)

Clear

Woodgrain (I also have one of two different "Woodgrain" versions of Stylelines)

Terry
« Last Edit: March 08, 2016, 01:08:43 PM by AE_Collector »

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2012, 08:49:24 AM »
Thanks for the detailed color list.  I've updated the on-line AE Color chart.

http://www.paul-f.com/AEcolors.htm

The date format YYDDD is a common format showing the  last two digits of the year and number of the day within the year (1 - 365).  As I recall, it was popular in the 60s - 80s as it was relatively compact for data storage on computers and made it easy for programmers to calculate the number of days between two dates (for interest calculations, etc.)

Western Electric adopted the format in about 1977 on the Princess sets and 1978 on the 500s.  It seems reasonable that AE would have used it as well.
  http://www.paul-f.com/we500typ.htm#Model

I do have the Rust Styleline and can dig it out for closer inspection.  Here's the label at full resolution on the photo previously taken.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2012, 10:44:03 AM by AE_collector »
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Offline markosjal

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2016, 03:19:01 AM »
I had one of the bright green stylines years ago .

When did the stylelines start using square buttons?
Phat Phantom's phreaking phone phettish

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2016, 12:35:24 PM »
Good question....

It was during the second generation that they changed from round to square buttons. The second generation is when Stylelines converted to conventional modular cords, and plastic rather than metal bases. This change was around 1978 but I think the second generation still had round buttons initially. I will try to narrow this down as most had dates on them through these years.

After quickly looking at Touch Call Stylelines posted in this topic, all second generation models here have square buttons. Maybe the change to the second generation included the change to square buttons. I didn't think so but will investigate further since I probably have more Stylelines than any one person should have!

Terry
« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 12:41:26 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline compubit

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2016, 02:42:44 PM »
We Moved to Carrollton, TX (Dallas suburb) in '79. Our first house (rental) had a Styleline phone in the kitchen with Round buttons. When we moved to our house in early 1980, the new phone had the square buttons. IIRC, the round buttons had a tuned tone pad (with coils), whereas the square ones had the IC-based tone generator.

My bedroom phone (a TT black AE 80e) had the short-throw keypad with an IC-based tone generator; my brother's had an older touch pad on it (1/4" depression vs. 1/8" depression on the electronic pads).

The main thing I remember about the innards was that the spade lugs clipped into the circuit board and were very susceptible to breaking.  Let's just say I got very good at wire-wrapping the spade lugs to what was left of the clips...

Jim
A phone phanatic since I was less than 2 (thanks to Fisher Price); collector since a teenager; now able to afford to play!
Favorite Phone: Western Electric Trimline - it just feels right holding it up to my face!

Offline markosjal

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2016, 11:28:12 AM »
AE_Collector ,

I found some NOS Stylelines for sale, (afraid to post here as they may all get sold) .  I wanted to pic up a few of them . What is your feeling on the round vs square button stlylines in terms of reliability or desirability? I understand the modular cords are easier to replace doen the road, but are the older DTMF pads more or less problematic? Is the design completely different?
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Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2016, 01:52:59 AM »
In the full size AE touchpads the oldest original ones are very problematic and the newest IC type developed many problems as well. Seems like the conventional touchpads with the big ferrite cores were the best type from AE. I have no idea about the touchpads in Stylelines though.

To me the older Stylelines with big plugs on the cords, round rather than flat cords and heavy metal bases are the more desirable ones to a collector and while I have no first hand knowledge of the reliability of the Styleline touchpads, if they followed the reliability if the full size touchpads then the older round button sets would be the better ones to get.

I have loads of the older type Stylelines that I need to sell but the largest number of them are wall mount Stylelines which aren't the easiest ones to sell compared to desk models but they are maybe good for collectors to put on display.

Terry

Offline oldguy

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Re: AECo Automatic Electric 980/981/982 "Styleline" Phones
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2016, 12:05:45 PM »
Outstanding collection Terry, they are beautiful.
Gary