History--Automatic Electric Co. advertising [telecom]

Fading from our memory is the once large Automatic Electric Co, a competitor to Western Electric and major supplier* to the Independent (non-Bell) telephone companies. AE was also a popular supplier of PAX--private automatic exchanges.

In the 1950s, AE ran ads in Computers & Automation magazine for their line of relay and stepping-switch products. Some are copied and appear below.

Unlike today, the ads focus literally on the "nuts and bolts" of the product--down to how the bare metal is formed and assembled. Other ads talk about the chemical and physical properties of the raw iron used in a relay core to make the relay fast acting.

Perhaps if some readers here had experience with AE exchange or station equipment, they might offer some observations.

  • Back then, AE focused on step-by-step switchgear, which was the primary mode used by small independent telephone companies it served. AE was a descendant of the original Strowger invention. It was later acquired by General Telephone, a major Independent company (GTE). GTE later merged with Verizon.

Unfortunately, the illustrations and graphics of the ads, such as boldface and large type, cannot be reproduced here. The magazine is available to view on the bitsavers.org archive site.

[ad #1] New Series PTW Polar Relay replaces WE 255A ... and costs less!

Since Western Electric announced their polar relays are no longer available, many relay users have been looking for a suitable replacement.

Look no longer! Automatic Electric's new PTW Polarized Relay is the complete equivalent of WE 255A relays in data transmission circuits. And the PTW series offers outstanding advantages over the relays you have been using.

Lower cost, for one thing. Less maintenance, for another. A new concept of relay design assures adjustments that stay put practically forever. It's small ... fast ... sensitive. Adaptable for new or existing installations.

More good news-we can supply PTW series in practically any quantity-and on short notice. If you'd like a complete briefing before you order, write for Circular 1821. Automatic Electric Sales Corporation, Northlake, Illinois. In Canada: Automatic Electric Sales (Canada) Ltd., Toronto. Offices in principal cities.

AUTOMATIC ELECTRIC A member of the General Telephone System- One of America's great communication systems.

[ad #2] STANDARDS THAT DETERMINE RELAY QUALITY trouble-free coil windings

Solderless splice ends failures two ways

The two chief causes of relay coil windings going open in service are: (1) electrolysis, and (2) breaking at the terminal. Automatic Electric prevents these difficulties with a winding termination technique that is vitally different.

We do not attach coil endings of fine wire directly to the terminals. Instead, we carefully strip the insulating enamel from several inches of the coil, endings and tightly twist this length of wire with strands of bare tinned copper wire. This strong solderless splice is then insulated with a special film sheet.

Because we make terminal connections over a long section of stranded wire, electrolysis has no single point to attack. And this flexible connection will never snap under temperature extremes or other stress-producing factors.

In every step of relay design and manufacture, we take extra pains to prevent trouble before it starts.

AUTOMATIC ELECTRIC A member of the General Telephone System- One of America's great communication systems.

[ad #3} STANDARDS THAT DETERMINE RELAY QUALITY contact points that stay on for keeps

Superior attachment technique guards against insecure welds. When you find a relay that sheds its contacts, you usually have a relay that's suffering from "cold welds"; this means that when the contact spring was made, the contact and the spring did not really weld together. When that happens, the contact is likely to fall off at any time.

We prevent that, here at Automatic Electric, by making contacts from a continuous length of precious metal wire. In one combined operation, we weld the end of this wire to the spring blank (using very accurate control of time and voltage), pinch it off so as to provide exactly the right amount of material for the contact, and finally form it into a dome of the contact metal. Result: a contact with a polished surface, welded to the spring for the life of the relay. This is one more reason why Automatic Electric relays set performance records of 200 to 400 million operations without a failure! This superior method is typical of the painstaking care that goes into every relay we make. AUTOMATIC ELECTRIC A member of the General Telephone System- One of America's great communication systems.

[ad #4] Be sure the rotary stepping switches YOU use have this "free-floating" pawl

Automatic Electric Rotary Stepping Switches ensure bind-free operation

Look at the pawl in the small illustration above. Automatic Electric's Type 44 and 45 rotary stepping switches can't bind. Automatic Electric has eliminated the old-style pawl stop block that jammed the pawl and caused binding. Instead, Automatic Electric uses a unique ufree-floating" pawl, and a set of stopping teeth on the end of the armature. These teeth engage the ratchet wheel smoothly, without jarring or jamming. They stop the wiper assembly positively, and position it exactly right on the bank contacts.

Automatic Electric offers many exclusive advantages over older type rotary stepping switches: * Pawl breakage is eliminated * He-adjustment of armature stroke is never required * There's no possibility of pawl binding, even at very low temperatures * There's no possibility of double-stepping or overthrow

No wonder more and more design engineers are choosing Automatic Electric rotary stepping switches! Plan now to use the Automatic Electric Type 44 or Type 45 rotary stepping switch in your products. For complete information, write for Circular 1698.

[ad #5] NOW! dependable relays for printed circuits

Maybe you, too, have been awaiting availability of a good relay for direct insertion into printed circuits. Now Automatic Electric can solve your problem with a miniature relay that is just right.

120 million operations, without a single readjustment or relubrication! That's what you get from. this rugged, improved Series SQD Relay, because it features a special heavy-duty bearing and bearing pin. Also a recess in the bearing plate retains an adequate supply of lubricant for long-term lubrication of the bearing pin.'

Consider these additional advantages:

  1. The sections of the terminals that insert into the printed circuit board are NOT brazed or welded into place, but are integral parts of the coil terminals and contact springs-thus preventing IDternal loss in conductivity or continuity.
  2. Terminal design permits direct plug-in of the relay into a printed circuit board, ready to be secured-in place with any acceptable soldering technique.

Usually the desired contact spring combination, or pile-up, is sufficiently large so that additional mounting (support) of the relay is not necessary.

SQD Miniature Printed Circuit Relays are available with many different contact spring arrangements, and for a multitude of applications. Springs can be made of phosphor-bronze, ((Bronco" metal, or other specialpurpose materials, as required.

Of course the long life, heavy-duty features of the improved SQD Relay can be had in the conventional type of plug-in relay, if regular sockets are preferred for use, whether in printed circuitry or other applications. To get complete details, write: Automatic Electric Sales.


[ad #6]

TO THE ENGINEER who can't tolerate a lapse of memory

If you're working on a think machine that can't afford to break its train of thought, consider AE's pint-size, fast-stepping OCS switcher. Unlike electron tubes and relays, this sophisticated device won't lose stored memory in the event of power failure or circuit interruption.

Besides, it can do the work normally assigned to whole banks of relays. The AE Series OCS will follow or initiate a prescribed series of events or cycles at 30 steps per second impulse-controlled, or 65 steps per second self-interrupted. Any pro- gramming sequence can be set up on one to six cams with as many as 36 on-and-off steps per cam. And each cam will actuate as many as six contact springs. In any event, if your designs involve relays or stepping switches, AE circuit engineers may be able to save you a pretty penny. Or, if you'd like to leave the switching to us, we're equipped to supply prewired and assembled, custom-built control units, or help you develop complete control systems. To explore the matter, just write the Director, Control Equipment Sales, Automatic Electric, Northlake, Illinois. Also ask for Circular 1698-H: Rotary Stepping Switches; Circular 1702-E: Relays for Industry; and our new 32-page booklet on Basic Circuits.


  • * * *

While Bell System publications liked to focus on its crossbar developments, in reality Bell was a major step-by-step user as well, and step-by-step grew in the Bell System, finally peaking in 1974 with about half of the lines served by it. Common control systems like crossbar and ESS weren't economical for small exchanges until the cost of electronics dropped in the late 1970s.

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