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Western Electric 581A

Internals for customer-supplied housing and handset.  (And used in design-line phones.)

2002 paulf.  All rights reserved.
(What's this copyright notice?)

WE 581A
The 581A consists of a metal plate with a 4010B or 4228 network and P1A ringer.

Dial, transmitter, receiver, ringer and line are connected to the network.
If mounted externally, a 6 conductor mounting cord is required.

This one is dated 1/77.
Used in DecoTel Stick
At the time of manufacture, the customer could own the housing, but not the internal active components.  These were provided by the phone company as part of the monthly service.

Non-Bell companies designed phones to accommodate the components of the 581A.

Here, the 581A is installed with a Deco Tel Candlestick telephone. 
The 581A is in the external "subset."

They were also used with cradle phones and other custom-designed phones -- usually integrated into the main body of the phone (see below).

Please send photos of other applications, and I'll post them on this page.

        Other examples of phones modified to work on the Bell System are found in the discussion here:
           (Opens in a new tab)
DecoTel yellow

Label on Subset

Label on set
Phones were provided with no internal active components.  In this case, they even provided a non-functional "dummy" dial, so the phone could be displayed in place until the installer arrived.

Labels on subset (above) and set (below)
, provided details and directed the customer to arrange for the installation of Bell System active components.

At installation, the Bell System installer put in the receiver and transmitter elements, dial and 581A -- then tested the phone.

If service was discontinued, the phone company had the option to remove the Bell System components.

In non-Bell areas, similar arrangements were made with the local phone companies, who would typically use AE/GTE or Stromberg components.

581A History:

The 581A replaced the F-56659 and F-56660, documented as follows:

501-410-400, I1, 12/69  F-56659 and F-56660 (shows 4010B network)

503-100-120, I1, 10/70  581A (shows 4010B network)
503-100-120, I2, 10/72  581A (
shows 4010B network)

503-100-120, I3, 1/74  581A (
shows 4010B  or 4228 network)
503-100-120, I4, 8/78  581A (
shows 4010B  or 4228 network)

Curiously, 503-100-120 is out of numeric order in Station Service Manuals dated 7/71 and 10/72.
It seems to be in the place occupied by 501-410-400 in previous SSMs, near the beginning of Section 502.
In SSMs after 1972, it is sorted after section 502.

DecoTel Candlesticks were sold by the Bell System as part of the Design Line Series starting in about 1974.

503-200-109, I1, 12/74 shows sets in black, red, white and "stars & stripes."
Networks and ringers were packaged in the base of the phone, so an external subset was  not needed.

The phone shown above was dated 1/77, and probably used the 581A because it was aqua -- not a standard Bell System color, and was probably purchased through mail order or from a non-Bell store.

F-56659 and F-56660

Internals for customer-supplied housing and handset.

F-56659 included a dial with silver fingerwheel and card holder.
F-56660 included a dial with gold fingerwheel and card holder.

F-56660 installed
Metal plate with a 4010A network and P1A ringer.

Mounted in a third-party supplied telephone.

The phone is dated 2/68.

The metal plate is marked F-56659/60, as the same subassembly was used for either kit.  The dial fingerwheel and card holder color is the only difference.
Mutual Tel Set
Before the Design Line series, phones were tested and approved by the operating companies.

This one was tested by New York Telephone.

NYT even issued a series of BSP appendices with NY as a suffix with installation instructions for sets they approved.  For example, a similar set was documented in:
  Appendix 2, 501-410-101NY, Issue A, 10/66, N.Y. Tel. Co.

Mutual Set Tag
The bottom label shows conformance to Bell System specs.

Mutual Telephone of America, Inc.

New York City

Model MTA-DL-SP-400

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2006 paulf.  All rights reserved.