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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 2:50 pm   #1
Sparks
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Default 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

When Shopper's World was still trading, particularly around 1980-81, I remember at least one page of the catalogue with pictures of telephones available for purchase. At the time this was unusual as the UK plug and socket system had hardly started (our old green 706 was hardwired until 1984!). Even had the P&S been more widely rolled out, these particular telephones would have been next to useless as they were all fitted with the PO420 plug. OK if you had one of the GPO Plan Systems and your telephone was an 'Approved ' instrument (was BABT Green Spot/Red Triangle a thing forty years ago?).

I seem to remember these telephones were vaguely American in overall appearance and design, e.g. Trimline and Onyx. Did anyone buy one of these telephones? What market were they aimed at?
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 4:38 pm   #2
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

They may well have been wired for use with the GPO Plan 4.

I seem to remember that back in the days of the GPO monopoly, one way to use your own telephones and not get caught too often was to get the GPO to install Plan 4. And then plug in a Plug 420 (which gave you access to the 2 line wires) and connect up your telephone. If the GPO turned up, you hastily unplugged and hid everything...

At about the time in question, Tandy in the UK sold a number of telephones fitted with the US plug (6p4c thing), I guess they sold them in the States too. They also sold the US socket ('modular socket') and the Plug 420. Although it was not stated, the idea was that you would wire 1 or more of the US sockets to the Plug 420, stick it into a Plan 4 installation and use the American-type telephones.
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 6:28 pm   #3
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

Yes, I too remember Tandy selling American telephone stuff, ostensibly aimed at British buyers but, by that time, covering their backsides with the 'Prohibited' Red Triangle on the catalogue pages.

I wonder if Shopper's World were attempting to corner the early 'Inphone' market by selling a few plug-in phones ? If that was the case, I can't blame them for fitting an established plug in the form of a 420, only for British Telecom to throw a curveball with the 431a!
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 6:59 pm   #4
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

I don't remember "Shoppers World" but I do remember the Tandy models. I bought an "ET120" push button model and "tried" it on our line. It made the other phone tinkle of course as the US models had no "electronic" anti-tinkle circuits. Probably have the ET120 still somewhere...
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 9:02 pm   #5
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

I admittedly only remember Shopper's World in catalogue form! Its existence was, as far as I was concerned an urban myth. I later found out SW was a sister company or subsidiary of Woolworths and its Leeds branch was on Woodhouse Lane. I think Argos killed them off as they grew out of the Green Shield Stamps beginnings. I guess the UK telephone market was a more liberated concern by the time Argos really got going.
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 10:26 pm   #6
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

I think Shopper's World closed when the British Woolworths shops were sold off by their American parent company & their new buyers decided to rationalise their operations.

The department store city centre shops and Woolcos also had gone by the mid 1980s.

The theme to Are You Being Served? mentions a telephone department, I assume department stores could act as agents for the GPO / BT selling alternative telephones & it would still need qualified engineer it install them.
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Old 24th Jun 2020, 10:03 am   #7
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

I thought the "telephones" in Are You Being Served? meant somewhere customers could telephone from, ie a row of payphones.

New sockets were launched 1981, BABT appeared in 1982. Before then you could only buy or rent phones from BT.

I can remember seeing only two old-style plug and socket installations, one for an answering machine and one for a B&B to allow a guest to use the phone. I think very few people had them, and it's unlikely there was much of a mass market for replacement phones. Harrods, or Trotters Independent Trading, would have sold some gold-plated monstrosities but I don't think Grace Bros or John Lewis ever did.
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Old 24th Jun 2020, 10:48 am   #8
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

One or two of the SW telephones were like the American Trimline series. No problem with those but there were certainly some garish faux marble and painted gold monstrosities. Shipped over the Atlantic by SW parent and hastily fitted with a PO420!
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Old 24th Jun 2020, 11:31 am   #9
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

Quote:
Originally Posted by OscarFoxtrot View Post
I thought the "telephones" in Are You Being Served? meant somewhere customers could telephone from, ie a row of payphones.

New sockets were launched 1981, BABT appeared in 1982. Before then you could only buy or rent phones from BT.

I can remember seeing only two old-style plug and socket installations, one for an answering machine and one for a B&B to allow a guest to use the phone. I think very few people had them, and it's unlikely there was much of a mass market for replacement phones. Harrods, or Trotters Independent Trading, would have sold some gold-plated monstrosities but I don't think Grace Bros or John Lewis ever did.
OK I should have thought it was a row of pay phones.

The Trafford Centre has one, but these days it hasn't that many actual pay phones & more a space to call on your mobile.
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Old 24th Jun 2020, 12:02 pm   #10
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

Quote:
Originally Posted by OscarFoxtrot View Post
I can remember seeing only two old-style plug and socket installations, one for an answering machine and one for a B&B to allow a guest to use the phone. I think very few people had them, and it's unlikely there was much of a mass market for replacement phones.
A bit of an aside...

If you go through all the N diagrams, you discover that the wiring of the Jack 95A (the socket that takes the Plug 420) was not exactly standardised. The wiring for an answering machine was different to that for a telephone, etc...

I made up a little unit with the a Jack 95A and a Jack 96A (the 5 contact one used for Prestel, and some Special Range telephones) wired to a bank of thumbwheel switches. I can use those to connect the sockets to a 'line' (actually from a line simulator or tester, it doesn't go to the public network), ringing capacitor, etc. With the right settings I can essentially set it up to handle any of the wiring shown in the N diagrams...
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Old 24th Jun 2020, 12:37 pm   #11
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by OscarFoxtrot View Post
I can remember seeing only two old-style plug and socket installations, one for an answering machine and one for a B&B to allow a guest to use the phone. I think very few people had them, and it's unlikely there was much of a mass market for replacement phones.
A bit of an aside...

If you go through all the N diagrams, you discover that the wiring of the Jack 95A (the socket that takes the Plug 420) was not exactly standardised. The wiring for an answering machine was different to that for a telephone, etc...

I made up a little unit with the a Jack 95A and a Jack 96A (the 5 contact one used for Prestel, and some Special Range telephones) wired to a bank of thumbwheel switches. I can use those to connect the sockets to a 'line' (actually from a line simulator or tester, it doesn't go to the public network), ringing capacitor, etc. With the right settings I can essentially set it up to handle any of the wiring shown in the N diagrams...
Clever stuff. I'd probably cause a telephone exchange to blow up if I tried that, even without a connection to the PSTN!
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Old 24th Jun 2020, 7:26 pm   #12
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

They only needed standardised wiring when Joe Public was let loose on the wiring. Using the imaginative phrase "Telephone Socket"
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Old 25th Jun 2020, 8:39 am   #13
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

It was rather new and exciting at the time, though, like polystyrene ceiling tiles and thixotropic paint. I remember a DIY programme "On the house" showing how to fit a BT Extension Socket Kit.
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Old 25th Jun 2020, 11:05 am   #14
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

Quote:
Originally Posted by OscarFoxtrot View Post
It was rather new and exciting at the time, though, like polystyrene ceiling tiles and thixotropic paint. I remember a DIY programme "On the house" showing how to fit a BT Extension Socket Kit.
For those of you with a line connected to CNet (Collectors Telephone Network) you can listen to an early BBC Radio Lancashire programme from the early 1980's on 'Fitting a DIY Telephone extension'

Just dial Lancaster (0524) 2345 to listen to the programme.

You can date the programme by the fact that the cost of converting your old 'hard wired' telephone line to the new white plug & socket system was 25 !

That was in the days before the NTE5 to which you were allowed to add your own wiring to the rear of the removeable faceplate. In the days of this recording, you weren't allowed to touch the BT socket - only plug the extension kit into the 'new white' socket!
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Old 25th Jun 2020, 11:27 am   #15
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pellseinydd View Post
That was in the days before the NTE5 to which you were allowed to add your own wiring to the rear of the removeable faceplate. In the days of this recording, you weren't allowed to touch the BT socket - only plug the extension kit into the 'new white' socket!
There were at least 2 good reasons for that :

There had to be an easy way to disconnect your wiring from the network so that BT could tell if the fault was in their stuff or yours.

The ringing voltage (and possibly the DC 'battery' line voltage) was high enough to be classed as hazardous. So connecting to something connected to the phone line was not something for J-random-public to do.

Connecting to a plug (either a normal BT plug to go into the original master socket, or the NTE5 faceplate) which was plugged into the line at the end of the job solved both of those issues.
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Old 25th Jun 2020, 2:12 pm   #16
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pellseinydd View Post
That was in the days before the NTE5 to which you were allowed to add your own wiring to the rear of the removeable faceplate. In the days of this recording, you weren't allowed to touch the BT socket - only plug the extension kit into the 'new white' socket!
There were at least 2 good reasons for that :

There had to be an easy way to disconnect your wiring from the network so that BT could tell if the fault was in their stuff or yours.

The ringing voltage (and possibly the DC 'battery' line voltage) was high enough to be classed as hazardous. So connecting to something connected to the phone line was not something for J-random-public to do.

Connecting to a plug (either a normal BT plug to go into the original master socket, or the NTE5 faceplate) which was plugged into the line at the end of the job solved both of those issues.
It was 50V DC on the normal circuit and this rose to a pulsed 96 volt when the telephone was being rung in (incoming call) I remember getting a couple of decent belts of them back in the day, it was worse the closer you lived to the exchange, ours was just across the street, we lived in a little village when I was a youth.
There were only two vans at our exchange, a big Bedford and a Viva HA, one for the engineer who went out and the smaller one for the engineer who 'lived' in the exchange. As a lad I got to know these blokes quite well, sometimes they'd have a flat battery and come over to borrow jump leads or other bits of stuff, one of them even popped over one day and fitted a 'new plan' socket for us, FOC. Then it became a real 'telephone exchange' lol,every so often they used to bring out new styles of phone and I would see one of the blokes from the exchange and he'd be telling me about the latest fancy new phone, I'd pop over with my old one and he'd 'exchange' it for the latest model, one of the advantages of living in a small village I suppose.
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Old 25th Jun 2020, 2:14 pm   #17
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Default Re: 'Shopper's World' catalogue telephones

Time to disconnect this thread which has gone off topic into the subject of telephone wiring, BT vehicles etc.
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