Re: Walter's Telephones [Telecom]

In a message dated 7/20/2009 1:52:46 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

Last weekend the television was full of news and historical looks at > Walter Cronkite, who passed away Friday. (RIP, Walter) > > Did you notice some of the unusual, or at least infrequently seen, > Bell System equipment? I saw what looked to me like several > Receive-Only Model 19 Teletype machines!

Thewe were not "infrequtnly seen" in nespapers, radio and TV newrooms and wire service offices. I believe we havd 14 Teletypes in the United Pres bureau in Dallas, not counting a couple of machines for TWX and a WUX printer from Western Union. I forget how many there were in the newsroom when I worked for The Daily Oklahoman and the Oklahoma City Times, but it was a bunch, both for Associated Press and United P{ress. Radio stations and most TV newsrooms got their news the same way--from receive only Teletypes receivng the news reports put out by the wire services' bureaus such as the one I worked in in Dallas. Each service had a number of different wires, general news, sports, radio, local or other state news, financial reports. The Teletypes became almost univeral after their development made them sufficiently reliable. Before that More operators with keys and souders sent and received the report, but with Teletypes there was no operator needed at the receive end. The Teletypes were connected to the same leased telegraph circuits that the Morse operators had used. These were provided mostly by telecos, although a few ran on W.U. circuits originally. Each circuit was operated either with customer-owned equipment or Bell equipment, all one owneership on one circuit. Of couse if you had a patch board you could patch one of either ownership to any wire in case of a failure. Our patchboard in Dallas also had an unmarked TWX jack, so we could patch an ASR machine in to avoid slow and tiresome hand punching.

And one clip, played repeatedly, featured the familiar sound of a > Teletype clunking out the latest hot news with Walter announcing > over the top of that sound. I also noticed one scene with a 564 > Keyset along with the equivalent 300-type keyset as well as a > 500-type set with no dial but with a "beehive" lamp holder mounted > on the dial blank cover plate! Other scenes revealed lots of beige > telephones, a 10 button keyset or two and lots of rotary dial > equipment. I was surprised that more headsets weren't seen - I'm > sure lots of them were used by those who may have had to write or > type as they received news from distant correspondents. Many manual > typewriters were evident, of course!

The Teletype background noise was used on many radio and TV news shows. I don't remember headsets being used very much...most people propped their phone on their shoulder while they were taking dictation. Many times you were getting information rather than dictation and had to write the story from your notes. In some cases a dispatcher phone arrangement with the transmitter on a pantagraph mounting was used, sometimes with a single hearset (no transmitter) was used, sometimes hung on the hookswitch when not in use.

None of the discussion associated with these scenes focused on the > telephones, of course. Maybe someone reading this can help us > better understand how this equipment played into the development of > the Evening News? I'm sure telephones, Teletypes and the Bell > System played a major part in conveying the day's happenings to > America. > > ***** Moderator's Note ***** > > The machines you saw were Teletype Model 15RO devices. They were the > standard of the Associated Press and United Press International well > into the 1970's: the sounds you heard were of an actual Teletype > machine. Small radio stations, such as WMLO in Beverly, > Massachusetts, where I worked in 1976, still used them: to this day, > newscasters refer to "Rip-'N-Read" as a derogatory term for any > quickly or carelessly produced news broadcast. The term comes from > the wire services' hourly printout of a news summary, which DJ's > could rip from the Teletype machine and read directly on the air. > > As to the telephones shown on Cronkite's set and offices, they were > actually instruments, and actually in use: Cronkite had been a war > correspondent and a press reporter, so he was an old hand at making > effective use of telephones (or radiotelephones, when he was in > Europe). Of course, they could have been hidden out of sight, but > the networks found that the public liked to have an image of an > informal setting where actual work could be done, because it made > viewers feel they were receiving more recent reports instead of a > staged presentation. > > By the 1980's most TV stations had revised their sets to show glitzy > video graphics and monitors: public tastes had changed so that > viewers were more attracted to stations which portrayed new > technology. > > Bill Horne

I could cynically suggest the it was not public taste but the stations' search for ratings that let to the graphics and glitz. I still remember fondly the weatherman with a chalk or crayon board and a stick, often making the weather more clear then they do now with their electronic gadgets.

-- Wes Leatherock

***** Moderator's Note *****

On the first day of my honeymoon in 1987, I awoke in an English cottage which had a TV set that looked like it had been assembled by Philo T. Farnsworth himself.

I turned it on - it was a Monday morning at about 9 AM - and I watched as a mechanical engineer explained the method used for stress testing industrial bolts. He was very pleased that the bolts he was testing hadn't broken until stressed at 150 percent of their rated strengh.

To this day, the memory delights me: I hope the British have retained what was, to me, an obvious sense of television's limits and how it should most appropriately be used.

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A couple comments on the thread...

When I started working in radio stations, we had Teletype model 15 printers for AP and UPI. They had a demodulator made by Lenkurt, or something like that. I think there were several wire services on a single voice grade pair. The demod chose which service to give us.

These printers were all Baudot 5 bit code. The first dot matrix printer I ever saw was a new wire service printer brought in to one station. It was an Extel printer.

The school newspaper had a printer that LOOKED like a model 15, but it used a 6 bit code so it could have upper and lower case characters. They had a printer and a paper tape punch going all the time. Each story started with a line of garbage on the printer. The line of garbage showed up as a readable story number punched into the paper tape. So, you could quickly scan through the tape to find the story you wanted, tear off that portion of the tape, go across the hall and put it in the tape reader on the LinoType.

Finally, on the mechanical engineering broadcast on British television, anyone remember "Sunrise Semester?" I remember seeing it as a kid on TV before the cartoons came on early in the morning.


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Those old green Baudot (5 bit) Teletypes remained in service well into the 1980s before retirement. Many organizations subscribed to news or weather services for various reasons. For example, the lobby of a strock broker's office had a general news machine.

Long after the actual machines were retired a recording of the sound was used to play in the background. More modern machines were either silent CRTs or ugly-noise dot matrix printers.

At one major newspaper all the desks had 'spacesaver' (also known as 'pharmacist') phones, with a headset hanging on the hookswitch instead of handset.

The Philadelphia TV news show on Channel 6*, WPVI, for years resisted the electronic glitz of other stations yet had the highest ratings by far. But they gradually evolved into radar, etc.

  • A quirk in frequencies allowed the audio portion of Channel 6 to be heard at 87.7 FM. Turned out many people listened to the station that way, and when the station went digital that audio was lost. Apparently to broadcast the audio now would require mountains of red tape and FCC approval, even though it had been done for years and the
87.7 frequency is physically empty and not usable for anything else.

On another newsgroup I was disappointed that correspondents strongly supported the _bureaucratic_ reasons "it can't be done", even though _physically/technically_ it certainly can be done. Anyway, America need not worry, we have plenty of bureaucrats eager to say NO! why something can't be done. Too bad they fail to realize progress was made by people thinking outside the box.

***** Moderator's Note *****

Being able to hear Channel Six on 87.7 wasn't a quirk: Channel Six's assignment was from 82 to 88 MHz, and the audio carrier for the "old" TV system was always 250 KHz below the top edge of the channel. Since the audio was sent as FM, it could be heard of FM receivers tuned to

87.7, which was close enough to "capture" the signal.

The FCC won't allow the audio to stay on 87.75 because the entire range from 54 to 88 MHz (The old channels 2 through 6) is being reassigned to other services.

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[ snipppeth ]

As our moderator notes, the radio frequency 87.7, which is receivable on most "FM" radios these days, is actually the audio carrier of "analog" television channel 6.

Now... since the official "FM band" actually begins at 88 mhz, the FCC wouldn't give out licenses to broadcast audio at 87.7

However, if you had a channel 6 tv license, you, as noted above, had (and may still have, see below) a de facto 87.7 audio feed.

Where this gets interesting is in "low power" transmitters. While getting a new tv or radio license has been just about impossible in most of the national markets for quite some time, you _could_ often get a "low power" one. The key proviso was that the frequency you were hoping for could _not_ be interfering with the primary licensee for that bit of the spectrum.

So, for example, if you wanted to get tv channel 6 in Philly, you'd be turned down since that's already (pre digital swapperoo) in the hands of Philly station WPVI.

But... if you asked the FCC politely for a low power license for that same channel, _and_ you were outside the primary coverage zone and wouldn't interfere in that geographic area, then, well, yes, you could get one.

So indeed, a couple of years ago NYC was treated to a low power broadcaster, WNYZ-LP, using that channel. And they, like a bunch of other folk around the country, took advantage of that frequency overlap to get a back-door sneak into FM radio.

While the low power video portion didn't go very far, the similar _audio_ segment gets pretty decent range. Hence the station marketed itself as a _radio_ station.

(Initially it was a misc. foreign language, mostly Russian, targetted audience. About a year ago they switched to a hip hop and dance format, under the name "Pulse 87").

Since "low power" television was exempt from the digital swaperroo, they're still out there. If you're in a limited area of NYC you can pick up their video, which is basically low quality filler material just to keep the FCC happy. If you're in a larger footprint, you can hear them quite well.

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danny burstein

In article , danny burstein wrote: [quoting ze moderator here:]

No they're not.

[back to Danny's text:]

It actually begins at 87.9, also known as "channel 200" in FCC parlance. There are two FM stations in the United States licensed to broadcast on channel 200: KSFH, a high-school station on the San Francisco Peninsula, and K200AA, a translator near Reno, Nevada.

Post-"digital swapperoo" as well.

Because of a quirk in Part 74 of the FCC rules, many of the rules that apply to full-power analog television audio do not apply to LPTV audio. This allows these LPTVs to transmit in standard matrix FM stereo rather than BTSC stereo, and to significantly overmodulate, making their signals more compatible with FM radio tuners.

Meanwhile, on an experimental basis, full-power station WRGB in Schenectady is transmitting its main-program audio as analog FM on

87.9 MHz (and not 87.75 as their old audio carrier was), superimposed on their ATSC digital channel 6 signal.

For a few more years.


Reply to
Garrett Wollman

Not true. The only TV spectrum auctioned off was the upper UHF channels from channels 52 theough 69. A few Digital TV stations still are trnsmitting in the low VHF band (channels 2 through 6). See

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A sampling of channels on low VHF:

Chan City

5 Anchorage, AK 3 Bethel, AK 6 New Haven, CT 3 Key West, FL 6 Pelham, GA 6 Wrens, GA 2 Las Vegas, NV

These channels are digital, so an FM radio in, for examle, New Haven, CT tuned to 87.7 will only get noise.

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And two DC ones the FCC staff will know well; if they can still receive them at home....

Reply to
David Lesher


No, those are on VHF-high, not VHF-low. (Our European Friends would say "Band III, not Band I".)


Reply to
Garrett Wollman

In the B&W days, everybody wanted the lower VHF channels because of the added range in fringe areas.

When color came along, chroma phase issues on channels 2 and 3 made them a little bit less desirable than before, but 4 through 6 were still the best spots on the dial to have.

By 2000, TV DX in fringe areas wasn't a big deal... people out there all had cable TV or satellite service anyway, and they weren't buying products from the local advertisers anyway, so targetting them wasn't a big deal.

With the digital changeover, the very phenomena that made long distance propagation of the VHF-LO channels desirable turn out to cause interference problems from distant cities now. So the channels that everybody used to want are now the least desirable ones.

The VHF-LO channels are still television channels, and they are still in use. There has been some talk about taking TV off of there and moving radio broadcast and public service stuff in there, but frankly nobody else really wants bandwidth in that range either.


Reply to
Scott Dorsey

Radio Amateurs would like a piece of this spectrum. Several European countries have an amateur allocation around 70 MHz, which they call the 4 meter band.

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allocated band is about 0.5 MHz wide. For example, the UK band allocation is 70.0 to 70.5 MHz.

4 meters has better propagation than 2 meters, the most used amatuer VHF band, and the antennas aren't as as large (and therefore as unwieldly for mobile use) asfor 6 meters (50 to 54 MHz).
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