Toll Stations in Arizona

The Crown King General Store where the Toll Station payphone was until the late 70's.

Arizona was one of the last remaining states to have Toll Stations up until in the late 70's. They were primarily handled by the Phoenix cordboard although some of them had Toll Centers physically closer.

In a sense Toll Stations or "ring downs" were the original party lines, but quite unlike what party lines had evolved to by the 1970's. Modern party lines have individual 7 digit numbers, using a switch to connect the call. But ring downs need an operator. Ring downs provide telephone service to very remote areas that have no reason for a switch and that required a small 4-wire toll line with repeaters. Toll Stations or "ring downs" basically were localities that had a single 4-wire toll line going directly from a toll center to the locality, then disbursed to stations in the area on 2-wire "party lines." No local central office. They had from 1 to 8 stations and were numbered by name, e.g.: Valle (Grand Canyon) #1, #2, etc. or Organ Pipe #1, #2, etc. They usually had at least one pay station, usually at the General Store (sounds quaint these days). Very often they may have had only one station, which was the pay station itself. The General Store at Crown King, Arizona had a pay station that was one of the last Toll Stations in the Arizona and the US.

Toll Stations served remote areas and p
eople from the community, ranchers, forest service, would place calls when near by or pick up messages left for them by the Toll Center Operator. They were the last vestige of the old "number please?" era.


Northern Electric Toll Service Desk

Northern Electric's Toll Service Desk was the first cordless console switchboard to replace the cord switchboard. Essentially it was an early version of AT&T's original Toll Service Position but unlike the concept of TSP(S) it was built around being strapped to the local crossbar, making it operate as a stand alone processor of calls. Northern Electric and AT&T were both thinking ahead though to hybrid electronic switches with analog components and later digital switches with large remote and automatic capabilities. The progressive development of these switches led to the ultimate demise of the intervention of a human operator.

This TSD position was located in Coos Bay, Oregon in a small Toll Center. Many of these systems were put into place in the late 60's and early 70's in small Toll Centers to relieve increasing operator toll traffic volume in a cost effective way. These were located in small places like Greenwood, SC, Greenvile, OH and Coos Bay, OR long before full Toll Service Position Systems were installed in Bell System and Indendent phone companies.

photo credit: Ron Briggs


MECOBS: Mechanized Combined Line and Recording System


From Privateline.com is this description of MECOBS by Ronald Briggs.

[Editor Tom Farley's note. Included in the Privateline.com page are discussions of personal remembrances and the article 'Mechanized Combined Line and Recording System", which appeared in the January, 1973 GTE Automatic Journal. The authors were A.B. Behnke, J.A. Calder, and W.R. Trudo. Click here for a partial, uncorrected scan of this document (internal link.]

In reading through the MCLR documentation, the system seems like a TSPS type concept answered and operated at a cordboard position. It mentions the switchboard could only be used in either "MCLR" (using SATT equipment) or (manual) cord mode, but not both at the same time. The "Dial Rear/Flash Key" description on page 264 details how the flash function is used to identify the trunk in the multiple that the caller is on if the call needs to be manually handled, thus removing the SATT ticketer from the call and the operator. It sounds similar to another system idea you forwarded to me last year, I believe from Northern Electric, that was quite a bit more advanced but not as advanced as MECOBS.

MECOBS, though, was different. All operations and keying were accomplished using the unit installed in each position, only two keys illuminated (ST, NUM EXPR (same as Error)) and the display only displayed two digit error codes. I came close to purchasing a three panel 3CL position with MECOBS, had all the keys been in the unit I would have (it was missing the CA TMG key). Attached are pics of it, the keyshelf unit keys have been rearranged from their original positions in the unit. The display unit is the upper left corner, the keyset was lower right, the black KP keys were lower left, the blue function keys were between the black keys and display, the green class charge keys were above the keyset to the right of the display. ST was to the right of "0", below "9", NUM EXPR was above "3".

MECOBS completely eliminated the need for mark sense tickets, everything was keyed - toll, credit, trouble, coin deposits. The only time tickets and the round KP keys to the right of the MECOBS unit were used was when MECOBS was down (NUM EXPR flashing 30 IPM, display reading "99").

From the lead article:

Mechanized Combined Line and Recording System by A. B. Behnke, J. A. Calder and W. R. Trudo GTE Automatic Electric Laboratories (partial, uncorrected scan, internal link)

"Historically, CLR (Combined Line and Recording) cord toll switchboard operation resulted in the operator manually preparing a ticket on subscriber originated calls. This method of operation included the marking of called and calling number, recording the start and completion of conversation, and the monitoring of supervisory lamps for disconnects. This article describes a new development which offers an economic method of 'machine ticketing' CLR calls that results in minimum operation effort in completing these calls. This system can function with existing SATT (Strowger Automatic Toll Ticketing) systems, and is primarily designed for use in small to medium toll centers having a maximum of 125 cord toll switchboard positions."

1952: Atlanta Telephone Operator History

This fact gleaned from a statement on the Atlanta Telephone History site in the section 1952 - Operator Toll Dialing explains a lot for me. When I was an AT&T International Operator handling Inward calls in the 70s a lot of our calls were for cities in the south. We would in turn dial the Inward operator in Savannah GA and they would get the call through...by dialing every digit on a rotary dial and you could every pulse come back! It seemed like a cumbersome process.

1952 Ivy St operators

"In 1952, Long Distance Service was improved with the introduction of "Operator Toll Dialing". This was made possible by the installation of a new toll switching machine in the 51 Ivy building. Now, to connect long distance calls, the 51 Ivy operator simply plugged in to a trunk going into the new machine and keyed the 3 digit area code and local number."

Then this...

Operators in Americus, Augusta, Buford, West Point, Columbus, Griffin, LaGrange, McDonough, Milledgeville, Rome, and Savannah were now able to take advantage of Operator Toll Dialing, using the Alanta 4A machine. But most of these operators were not fortunate enough to have Keypulsing like the Atlanta operators and had to dial all calls using a rotary dial."

Which explains why so many of our Inward calls from overseas operators went to southern US cities that basically had updated 1920s to 1940s local switchboards and central offices. Some calls just required a local operator to plug directly into the central office trunks on the switchboard and dial the last 4 or 5 digits of the number.


AT&T/Bell System Operator Routing Codes

Key Pulse
000 - The Rate Quote System (RQS) (1)
001 - 005 Spare (2)
006 - 008 Reserved (3)
009 RQS
010 Reserved
011 International Origination Toll Center (IOTC) (15)
014 TWX Switching Plan (Canada) (?)
015 - 071 Spare
072 - 079 Reserved
080 - 081 Spare
082 - 087 Reserved
088 Spare
089 Reserved
090 - 099 Spare
100 Plant Test - balance termination
101 Plant Test - test board
102 Plant Test - Milliwatt tone (1004 Hz)
103 Plant Test - signaling test termination
104 Plant Test - 2-way transmission and noise test
105 Plant Test - Automatic Transmission Measuring System / Remote Office Test Line (ROTL)
106 Plant Test - CCSA loop transmission test
107 Plant Test - par meter generator
108 Plant Test - CCSA loop echo support maintenance
109 Plant Test - echo canceller test line
110 - 119 Operator Codes
115 Operator Leave Word
116 Inward DA
120 Network Emergency Center (?)
121 Inward Operator (9)
122 AT&T Ready line INWATS (4)
123 - 130 Reserved
131 Directory Assistance
132 - 137 Reserved
138 IDDD for Equal Access (7)
139 - 140 Reserved
141 Rate and Route (10)
142 -147 Reserved
148 points not on an NPA - Hermosillo, Mexico (5)
149 Reserved
150 Cable Control (Satellite Avoidance) - Hawaii (5)
151 International Assistance
152 - 157 Reserved
158 Operator Assistance for Equal Access (7)
160 International Operator Center (IOC) (6)
161 Trunk Trouble Reporting
162 - 167 Reserved
168 points not on an NPA - Grenada
169 - 170 Reserved
171 points not on an NPA - Monterey, Mexico
172 points not on an NPA - Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands (Canada only)
173 Reserved
174 Cable Control (Satellite Avoidance) Caribbean
175 Reserved
176 points not on an NPA - Mexicali, Mexico
177 - 178 Reserved
179 points not on an NPA - Grenada
180 points not on an NPA - Mexico Numbers
181 Toll Station
182 International Switching Center (ISC) White Plains, 5 (14)
183 ISC New York, BW24
184 ISC Pittsburgh
185 ISC Atlanta OLT
186 ISC Sacramento
187 ISC Denver/Sherman Oaks (?) (15)
188 ISC New York, 5450
189 points not on an NPA - Mexico City, Mexico
190 points not on an NPA - Mexico Numbers
191 Conference loop around
191 AT&T Advanced 800 intercept recording frames (4)
192 Reserved
193 Cable Control (Satellite Avoidance) - Grenada
194 points not on an NPA - Tijuana, Mexico
195 AT&T Advanced 800 (4)
196 AT&T International 800 (4)
197 Reserved
198 AT&T International City Service Center (ICSC)
199 Cable Control (Satellite Avoidance) - Alaska
199 AT&T USA Direct (4)

4 or 5 digit codes (8)

1150,11501 Universal or Coin Callback
1151,11511 Conference Operator (11)
1152,11521 Mobile Service / Air-Ground
1153,11531 Marine Service (12)
1154,11541 Toll Terminal
1155,11551 Time and Charges callback
1156,11561 Hotel / Motel callback
1157,11571 IOTC access trunk
1158,11581 Inward- completion assistance (BOC)
1159,11591 Inward- busy line verification (BOC)
1160,11601 Calling Card Validation - dial pulse equipment (13)
1161,11611 Calling Card Validation - DTMF equipment
1162,11621 Calling Card Validation - MF equipment

(1) The Rate Quote System is a voice response system used by operators to obtain routing information. The system, now being phased out, was used as an alternative to calling the Rate and Route operator. Operators would key-in required routing information and a synthesized voice would respond. Though the RQS is still operational, operators now obtain routing information from COMPIS (See note 10).

KP+DD+ONPA+NXX+TNPA+NXX+ST to get the "rate step" for:

DD = 00 Now
DD = 01 Day Call (08:00-17:00)
DD = 02 Evening Call (17:00-23:00)
DD = 03 Night Call (23:00-08:00)

KP+04+? Something with Mexico, unclear.
KP+05+NPA+NXX+ST Gives the routing for a BOC inward (See note 9)
KP+06+NPA+NXX+ST gives the routing for an AT&T inward operator (See note 9)
KP+07+XXXXXXX+ST Reads back the numbers you just typed
KP+08+? Something with Enterprise and Zenith numbers, unclear.
KP+09+NPA+NXX+ST Gives you the current time for the area and exchange just dialed.

(2) When a code is marked spare, that means that there is no current or planned network wide usage. It still may be utilized as a non-standard POTS exchange for WATS service by local companies.

(3) When a code is marked reserved, it means that there may be planned network wide usage.

(4) This code is used by an AT&T custom service. It may be thought of as acting like a special area code and takes the following dialing format: KP+XXX+YYY+YYYY+ST where XXX is the code in question and Y can be any number 0-9.

(5) All "points not on an NPA" and "Cable Control" function as pseudo area codes and are followed by a telephone number.

(6) Calls to the IOC are dialed as follows: KP+160+CCC+ST CCC=Country Code (i.e. 044 or 144 for the UK).

(7) These are special codes used with Equal Access. They are as follows:

KP+138+PIC+ST then KP+CC+cc+xxxxx+ST

Where PIC is the primary carrier code, CC is the country code and cc is city code. xxxxx is subscriber number. We are not sure exactly when and where these are used.

(8) All four and five digit codes are dialed as follows:
Keep in mind that not every code is in use in every NPA.

(9) The format for an AT&T inward is usually KP+NPA+121+ST -- In some small cities there is an extra code used called a Terminating Toll Centre (TTC) or sometimes just a city code. If a TTC is used, the format is KP+NPA+TTC+121+ST. To get an inward with most BOCs you dial KP+NPA+11591+ST but there are some which use a format of KP+NPA+TTC+121+ST. To get the inward routing for a particular exchange, use the Rate Quote System (RQS).

(10) The number for Rate and Route was 800+141+1212 but this was discontinued sometime last year (1987) when the TSPS operators got a computer terminal called COMPIS. In each there is an inward which acts like a Rate and Route operator. In New York it is 716+121.

(11) With the advent of Alliance Teleconferencing, use of the conference operator dwindled. There are currently four operator handling conferences. They are as follows: Atlanta 404+11511, Minneapolis 507+11511, New York 212+11511 and Oakland 415+11511. 800-225-0233 translates to the conference operator closest to you.

(12) The Marine Operator is used in calling ships that are close to the United States. There is an operator called the "High Seas" operator who can be reached by dialing 800-SEA-CALL (800-732-2255). The High Seas operator is a service of AT&T, while Marisat is an independent company. A High Seas call can go to any ocean for $14.98 for the first 3 minutes and $4.98 for each additional minute. A Marisat only to three oceans and costs $10 a minute.

(13) 116X and 116XX are used to verify an AT&T Calling Card number. You dial KP+NPA+116XX+ST when you hear a "bong" you dial the calling card number. If you use 11611 you enter the number in Touch Tone and if you use 11621 you enter the card number in MF using KP and ST.

(14) These ISC codes are used to provide alternate routing for electro-mechanical switches. Some older electro-mechanical switches, for example #5 Crossbar (5XB) cannot outpulse 011+CCC (CCC=Country Code) for international dialing. AT&T has set up these special codes to handle international calls. A 5XB can dial KP+18X+ST. They would then receive a wink (short blast of 2600 Hz) and would proceed to dial the country code and number. If you want to make an international call you dial KP+(NPA)+18X+ST where the NPA is optional. After the wink dial the country code, city code and number. The "," after the city name is the switch number if there is more then one 4-ESS in that city.
(15) The 187 code was assigned to Atlanta until up to the end of February 1988. AT&T is in the process in routing the calls to the Sherman Oaks Office in California.

(16) To make international calls dial KP+011+CCC+ST where CCC is the country code; and then dial KP+CC+XXXXXXX+ST where CC is the city code and XXXXXXXX is the telephone number.