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Telephone History
Mobile Telephone History ---- Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (Packet switching) (Next topic: Standards)

What existed before cell phones

briefcase phone IMTS

From Geoff Fors:

"Your briefcase phone photo shows the final Canyon/GCS Mark 1000 product. Canyon was absorbed or merged into GCS, a company in the Los Angeles area, probably Glendale, in the early 1980's. Canyon was a pioneer of attache case phones. GCS stood for General Communication Systems."

"I believe this was their final product. I have a slightly earlier version which uses a trimline rotary dial handset but is otherwise the same. They are all IMTS + MTS and have a peculiar feature entitled "auto call." I can't tell you what that was supposed to do because none of my versions of this phone have ever functioned properly if at all."

"The supervisory logic was by Uniden and the guts were a Canyon product, very crudely patched together. Things like roofing copper cut with tin snips and soldered together for shielding. I have had several of the rotary dial versions and none of them functioned; all had trouble in the logic and supervisory section. The logic package uses a backup battery consisting of one of those 1970's era mercury cells, and they are always dead by now. Evidently the main function program is partially stored in CMOS, backed up by that battery (in addition to the telephone # and customer programming) and when the battery dies, the phone goes nuts. I have never seen one of those models in person, just in ads or on eBay. I haven't been able to secure one for the "museum" yet because for some reason, uninformed people think the thing can still be used as a mobile phone 'to make free calls' and they seem willing to pay far too much for what is just a doorstop in 2001."

"In case you see one sometime, Yaesu made a portable hand-held IMTS phone called the FTC-2205 'Traveler' which consisted of one of their commercial handie talkies with a 'fake' IMTS tone package in it. It wasn't full duplex and you had to release the button to listen. The way it got around the issue of full duplex operation (necessary for IMTS signalling) is that the logic circuit was designed to assume that acknowledge tones had been sent from the telco land station whether they actually had or not. Standard IMTS phones require acknowledge and 'proceed' signals from the telco before they proceed to the next step. The Traveler was rather hokey in operation but it did work, and was keyboard programmable. You could program it for either telco or RCC channels, but not both at the same time."

"I recently noticed that Western Mobile Telephone in Anaheim was trying to dump a load of UHF Travelers via eBay, and later saw that one buyer had left negative feedback because he discovered the personality EEPROM was missing. I think that's because Yaesu abandoned the product and just dumped them via their Cerritos, Calif. warehouse in 1984, evidently disabling them for scrap."


Geoff Fors

Death of CGS/Canyon due to cell phones

Tom Farley here. A reader sent in the following, which must be a memory of CGS/Canyon:

"The interview I spoke about relative to cell phones being 'the enemy' occured at a VHF telephone company in the early-to-mid 1980's. The Glendale, California company made VHF telephones, and their business was slowly being eroded by the emergence of cell phones. I was in the President's office being interviewed for a job (I had just dropped by with my resume, and had been invited in). The President had someone else in his office when it came for my appointment. It was a doctor looking for someone looking to manufacture a product for him."

"The President of the [soon-to-be-former] VHF telephone equipment manufacturing company, asked his visitor if he would mind if I sat in on their discussion. The visiting doctor (who had purchased the patent rights for a medical device) readily consented; he was looking to get his message out, and was pleased to have more people to present his ideas to."

"It was in this interview that the VHF Co. President, speaking to the medical doctor, spoke of cell phones as being a 'cancer' that threatened to engulf and destroy his company unless he quickly diversified. I never went to work for the company -- he was down to one employee -- his secretary (who might have also been his wife or girlfriend). I don't know what ever became of the doctor and the medical device that he sought to have manufactured."

A reader



Geoff is an ardent mobile radio enthusiast, please visit his site soon.

More IMTS madness? Of course. Take a look at a company newsletter describing the 1982 cutover in Pac Bell land:
Page One/ Page Two/ Page Three/ Page Four

(1) Service cost and per-minute charges table/ (2) Product literature photos/ (3) Briefcase Model Phone / (4) More info on the briefcase model/ (5) MTS and IMTS history/ (6) Bell System (7) Outline of IMTS/ (8) Land Mobile Page 1 (375K)/ (9) Land Mobile Page Two (375K)/ (10) The Canyon GCS Briefcase Telephone logo West Sacramento, California, USA. A Tom Farley production




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