“Deposit twenty five cents, please.”
- Creator: MarkGregory007
BellSouth started pulling out of the pay phone business in 2002 to concentrate on its wireless and internet services. It is estimated that today there are less than 450,000 pay phones operating throughout the U.S. Someday, not too far in the future, the only place you will find a pay phone is in a museum or in someone’s home as a technology collectible. This phone was pulled from service in about 2001 in Alabama and was sold by BellSouth (an AT&T subsidiary) to a savvy business man who stored the phone away with others in a warehouse until offering it for sale on eBay in 2012. It works on a standard telephone line and does not require electricity or coins. Calls can be made to and from the phone. It has an interesting bell ring that brings back memories of days gone by. You can hear a pay phone ringing at this website: payphonenews.com/news/2010/08/a-ringing-payphone.html Western Electric Fortress Payphone This is an example of a Fortress pay phone developed in the 1960’s by Western Electric, later maintained by AT&T and then Lucent Technologies. Today they are maintained by QuorTech, a COCOT phone manufacturer. This phone improved upon the older three-slot style pay phone. First is that there is only one coin slot and the other is the heavily armored exterior and cord. The single slot Fortress can be used in an automated system for long distance calls. AT&T used to use a system called Automatic Coin Toll Service. The phone had two configurations, stand alone (model 1A1 or 1A2) or behind a metal panel (model 2A1 or 2A2). The panel just hid a regular model 1A1 or 1A2 phone, but it looked cleaner with the flush trim. Several varieties of this phone exist depending on the vintage of the phone. Phones made in the 1960’s have the older Bell System logo. Phones made in the 1970’s through 1984 have the more modern Bell System logo (as seen on the right). Phones made after 1984 do not have a logo on the phone. The coin return slot on phones made prior to 1984 say at the top “Bell System – Made by Western Electric.” Some phones made after 1984 just have the “Made by Western Electric” part. Phones made recently do not have any wording at the top of the coin return slot. Phones made in the 1960s had a tapered coin return lever, later ones had a squared-off end. Older phones made before the 1990’s have mechanical coin return mechanisms (they go “ker-chunk” when you move the lever). More modern electronic ones do not make any noise. Older phones or phones that have not been modified do not have an “amplification” button and only have a red sign in the corner telling you how to make a call on the phone. Both rotary dial and touch-tone varieties exist. Most phones are painted black though I have seen some painted dark green. Most of these phones are Central Office controlled (local calls, coin collect/return, ACTS, etc) while varieties now exist that are now COCOTS in old familiar Fortress housings. Bell South uses these in their entire network. Bell Atlantic uses these as COCOTS in independent telco territory. From another source….. “Fortress” is a nickname for the single-slot pay phone developed by the Bell System in the late 1960’s. The name now applies to any style of single-slot, coin line controlled pay phone. There are 3 main variations of the “Fortress” pay phone. The original Western Electric model, used only by Bell System companies, the Automatic Electric (GTE) model, used by GTE (Verizon) and many independent companies, and the Northern Electric (Nortel) Centurion model, used by Canadian companies and by some USA independent companies. Although the phones look quite different, they all operate the same way. Fortresses require a special coin line to operate properly. For local calls, the phone counts up the money until the local rate has been deposited. When a sufficient deposit is made, the pay phone completes a path to ground so that the phone will pass the coin ground test. After a phone number is dialed, the central office conducts the coin ground test, which consists of sending an electrical current to the pay phone and measuring the resistance to ground. If the resistance is infinite, the call is considered unpaid and routed to a recording telling the caller to hang up and pay before dialing again. If the resistance is around 1000Ω or less, the call is considered paid and it is put through. BELLSOUTH BellSouth, LLC (BELLSOUTH) formerly known as BellSouth Corporation is an American telecommunications holding company based in Atlanta, Georgia. BellSouth was one of the seven original regional Bell operating companies after the U.S. Department of justice forced AT&T to divest itself of its regional telephone companies on January 1, 1984. BellSouth was the last of the Regional Bell Operating Companies to keep its original corporate name after the 1984 AT&T breakup, as well as the last one to retain the Bell logo as part of its main corporate identity.
“Deposit twenty five cents, please.” is available in the public domain via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic .