This is a selection of books that have been reviewed in the Telecomms Heritage Group's journal and will doubtless interest a wider audience.

BRITISH TELEPHONE IDENTIFIER by Rob Grant.  

OLD TELEPHONES, by Andrew Emmerson.  

OLD TIME TELEPHONES! TECHNOLOGY, RESTORATION AND REPAIR by Ralph O. Meyer.  

PHONE BOXES by Neil Johannessen.    

PHONE CARDS by Yves Arden.  

SWITCHING SYSTEMS AND APPLICATIONS, edited by Fraidoon Mazda.  

THE INVENTOR OF STEREO: THE LIFE AND WORKS OF ALAN DOWER BLUMLEIN, by Robert Charles Alexander.    

VINTAGE TELEPHONES OF THE WORLD by Peter Povey and Reg Earl.  

OUT OF PRINT BOOKS.

 


OLD TELEPHONES, by Andrew Emmerson.

Shire Publications, 2000: ISBN 0-85263-781-0. 52 pages, 50 b/w photos, paperback, 2.95.

Andrew Emmerson's handy book Old Telephones has been reprinted by Shire Publications and now comes in a stiff, laminated cover. There are some minor updates to the contacts list but otherwise the text and pictures are unchanged. This is still the cheapest introduction to the hobby and can be ordered through any bookshop for 2.95 (it's also available on the Web from amazon.co.uk).

 

THE INVENTOR OF STEREO: THE LIFE AND WORKS OF ALAN DOWER BLUMLEIN, by Robert Charles Alexander.

Focal Press, 1999: ISBN 0-240-51577-3. 640 pages, 80 b/w photos, hardback, 29.99.

For many, many years the world has waited for a proper biography of Blumlein and at last it has appeared. It is not, however, the book that many people may recall was announced some years back by a charlatan who succeeded in 'borrowing' valuable materials from the Blumlein family and others-and then never published anything. These materials he took to the grave, depriving other biographers of making use of them.

Never mind. This all-new book by Robert Alexander is an admirable substitute and almost certainly a far superior product. In these 640 pages I can see nothing that has been omitted and we have the full story of Blumlein's employment on telephony at STC and his work on audio, television and radar matters. His work at EMI on high-definition television is particularly well documented, with details of all the patents he secured. One or two readers have pointed out some minor slips but the comprehensive treatment makes up for this.

The book is superbly illustrated with diagrams and photographs and readers seeking further information can find this on a special website (www.gedas.co.uk/blumlein) on which documents too long to include in the book have been stored.

AE 


SWITCHING SYSTEMS AND APPLICATIONS, edited by Fraidoon Mazda.

Published by Focal Press, 1996, UK price 15.99. ISBN 0-240-51456-4, 290 pages, paperback.

If you have a cherished copy of Atkinson's Telephony and long for a modern book that could explain today's telephone technology in similar detail, you will probably have a long wait. Books that explain clearly how the telephone network functions have never been thick on the ground, probably on account of the vast time it takes to document such a broad and detailed subject in a way that is both adequate and also accessible to the average reader.

All the same there is now a book that comes close to this ideal and the one I recommend is this one, edited by Fraidoon Mazda , a technical manager at Northern Telecom and author of eight textbooks. Mazda has assembled a team of fourteen contributors from leading manufacturers and operators such as Nortel, Ericsson, Rockwell and BT to produce a slim paperback that is a model of clarity. In just under 300 pages his team cover subjects that most people would wish to know. Basic principles are given for switching and signalling systems, before launching into descriptions of the workings of telephones, public exchanges, PABXs, centrex, call management, voice processing and electronic data interchange.

The book was published four years ago, which may explain apparently dated references to Mercury Communications and TXE4 exchanges; in any case this extra helping of history is no detraction for us. Surprisingly, though, there is no mention of System X, Britain's most widely deployed switch, although System 12 (which BT rejected) is covered extensively. Fortunately the principles used by all modern switch are broadly similar (it is obviously impossible to include in-depth details of every type of exchange) and the book is an economical means of picking up some valuable technical knowledge. A good book and good value in this day and age. Finally, if you attended the last THG meeting at the Science Museum in London and the name Mazda looks familiar, yes, there is a connection-Fraidoon is father to 'our' Xerxes.

AE


The BRITISH TELEPHONE IDENTIFIER by Rob Grant is a word-processor and photocopier-produced book, presented in a smart plastic binder. It contains approaching 150 pages of illustrations and detailed notes on just about every telephone used in this country since the turn of the century right into the 1980s. The production is almost as thick as a telephone directory and is indispensable for the serious collector. Price 10 post-paid from Rob Grant, Dudley House, 42 Portland Road, Leicester, LE2 3AB; cheques and postal orders payable to R. Grant.


Two other very useful books are: PHONE BOXES by Neil Johannessen and PHONE CARDS by Yves Arden. Brief but comprehensive and well illustrated paperbacks in the Shire Albums series, modestly priced at 2.25. Shire Publications, Cromwell House, Church Street, Princes Risborough, Bucks., HP17 9AJ.


VINTAGE TELEPHONES OF THE WORLD by Peter Povey and Reg Earl. Originally published in 1988, the book was long out of print but it is now republished. An excellent book and a 'veritable bible of telephony'. Hardback, 200 pages, 263 illustrations. Available again at a price far below the cost of the first edition - 20 plus 1.50 post and packing. Telephone Lines Ltd, 304 High Street, Cheltenham, GL50 3JF. Telephone (01242) 583699, fax (01242) 690033.


OLD TIME TELEPHONES! TECHNOLOGY, RESTORATION AND REPAIR by Ralph O. Meyer. Published by Tab Books (division of McGraw-Hill) at 16.95. ISBN 0-07-041818-7. Paperback, 290 pages, many illustrations and diagrams.

You'll probably have to order this book through W.H. Smith or a good bookseller but I promise you it's a good book. It's not often that I find nothing but praise for a book but this one is hard to beat. The title says it all and the book covers both classic and current telephones, providing schematics and hard-to-find technical data.

Oh yes, it is an American book so it covers American telephones rather than British ones but the information is totally valid to British readers. Many pages describe magneto wall phones and candlestick instruments which are identical or virtually identical to those used over here. Even the American 200 type and 500 type phones are conceptually identical to our 200 and 700 types. Coverage is from 1878 to the Princess phone era (late 1960s/early 1970s), and minor manufacturers such as Kellogg and Stromberg Carlson are not ignored.

The photos have been taken specially for the book and are nice and clear. There are plenty of interesting and unusual phones, such as the ten-button touch-tone phones (from the time when the * or # buttons were not provided) as well as bellsets arranged for harmonic ringing.

Circuit diagrams are provided and the author has gone to great lengths to explain inductor, booster and anti-sidetone circuits. Basic telephone technology and audio theory are not ignored either. The briefest section is on restoration techniques but the rest of the text more than makes up for this.

This book is a treasure, yet it's not expensive. If you call yourself a telephone collector you'll regret not having a copy.


OUT OF PRINT BOOKS

Older textbooks on telephony and telegraphy are a valuable source of circuit diagrams and information in general. Two books both called TELEPHONY and published by Pitman are worth having. Both books are in two volumes; the pre-war edition was by Herbert and Procter, whereas the post-war revision was by Atkinson. Poole's TELEPHONE HANDBOOK (also published by Pitman) is also useful. The standard work on telegraphy is Herbert's TELEGRAPHY (Pitman).


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