10 forgotten wonders of 1980s homes

Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Wed Dec 30 12:12:32 CST 2015

On 12/29/2015 11:24 PM, Christian Gauger-Cosgrove wrote:

> The direct successor to the 4/4AXB was the 4ESS/4AESS. (Meanwhile the
> successor to the local crossbar offices was 1ESS/1AESS; save for the
> weird 3XB which was replaced by the small 3ESS.) And of course both
> local and toll ESS have been replaced by the 5ESS.

I'll defer to the experts; all this clicky-clicky stuff with "we don't 
offer that feature" are very old memories.

Evolution of the telco networks has been interesting.   I remember that 
my grandmother had a 2-digit phone number and the linemen who worked for 
the local telephone outfit also repaired radios on the side (She had a 
big Zenith with the auto-station seeking gizmo in her parlor).

At the same time, our family's phone number sticks in my mind: Sheffield 
2118-W (we were on a party line).  When we purchased our current home 
(with some acreage), there was an easement through the land documented 
from 1927--you still can find buried glass insulators and bits of iron 
hardware in the soil here and there.  It was replaced at some point by a 
buried pair of coaxial lines (the test points still exist).  When I was 
doing some excavation, I called in the line-mapping service who verified 
that the stuff was dead.  There are still warning signs with a "Call 
ENTerpirse xxxx and ask for Operator 7 before digging" legend--some of 
the signs have been overgrown with the wood of trees that they were 
attached to.  Great fun.  No one seems to know when the line was abandoned.

Now, the buried copper that serviced our telephones on this road is 
being replaced by fiber hung on the existing electrical utility poles 
because the buried cable is apparently sliding down the hill and would 
be very expensive to replace with like copper.  I have a bunch of boxes 
sitting on a concrete pad on my property that connects the existing 
buried local copper with the fiber--I got to see what an 1800-pair 
copper cable looks like.

I read an article recently that in the US, only 8 percent of the 
population relies on POTS exclusively.  Currently, I'm waiting for more 
upstream capacity before I can get 20Mbps  DSL--right now, I'm existing 
on 1.5Mbps, but the local telco did send me a VDSL2 modem free of 
charge.   When that happens, I'm dropping POTS service as it's just not 
worth the monthly fees and taxes.  Dry loop after that.

All of this has me wondering how long it's going to be before POTS 
completely disappears from the infrastructure.  I've been experimenting 
with one of the Obihai VoIP boxes and have been pleasantly surprised at 
the quality.  I haven't tried yet to see if the 554 rotary dial wall 
phones in my garage and shop will still work.  They were installed in 
1980--so that ties this in with the subject material.

I will say this--that the personal service that I received in the 1980s 
and early 90s was amazing.  Nothing like what it is now, which can 
involve waiting on hold for an hour before talking with a remote voice a 
thousand miles away who has no clue as to what's going on.

Life in the boonies 12 wire miles from the CO...


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