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TSPS History

The traffic service position system let operators handle calls from distant locations. Many local operators were laid off or consolidated far from subscriber locations. If you lived in Redding, California your call might now be answered from Sacramento, 185 miles away. No local operator, no local knowledge. Today that same call might be answered in Texas, several states away. One last point: the traffic service position was originally a seat at a console, TSPS was the system that networked distant callers and consoles to provide operator services. Thus, a TSP console became a TSPS console once part of the Traffic Service Position System.

TSP console small

Click for a larger image


The photo of Cleveland's TSPS above was a slightly different version of the original TSPS that was put into New Jersey. The final product omitted the keys to the left of the multileaf file because the function those keys served had been incorporated into the primary functions to the right of the multileaf.

I suppose I should write an operators' perspective of how TSPS radically changed our call handling and created a new operator services culture. Including the mechanics of operating the console that were similiar and those that were different from the cord switchboard.

You know that Northern Electric actually beat Western Electric to the punch in putting in trial consoles in Greenwood, South Carolina and Greenville, Ohio but they were much less automatic and still required a lot of operator "ticketing and timing"?

TSPS console

TSPS console. Click to enlarge (734K!, very large)

The Bell System was world famous for its industrial design research. Click on this link to see what they studied for operator consoles (167K). This diagram shows a stylized woman at the seat of their new cordless switchboard. Before 1972 no switchboard was designed with men in mind, there being no male operators. As JR Snyder Jr. relates, "I'm a small guy, 5'7'' and now almost 160, back then I was only about 128 lbs and I didn't have many problems at the cordboards. But any guy 5' 10' to 5'11' or over was pretty uncomfortable. The boards were sized for women, in fact not being over a certain height and size was a job requirement, sort of like airline stewardesses."

From United States Patent 5,046,183, Dorst , et al. September 3, 1991

Semi-automated operator assistance telecommunication calls In the present mode for operating the public telephone network, toll and assistance operators are still required for a large class of these calls. For example, toll and assistance operators are required for processing calls such as station-to-station (station) collect calls; person-to-person (person) calls including sent paid, collect, and calling card calls; and bill-to-third party calls. . .

In the past, the cost for setting up 0+ and 0- calls has been sharply reduced through the introduction of systems such as the Traffic Services Position System (TSPS) No. 1, and the Operator Services Position System (OSPS), both manufactured by AT&T Network Systems, which require that operators only be connected to a call during the call setup time and that operators may be recalled when needed for such operations as collecting an overtime charge on a coin call, notifying a customer of the elapsed time and charges for a call, or in response to an originating customer flash because of, for example, poor transmission or a poor connection. All of these conditions are detected by timing or in response to calling customer signals. . . .

From the following patent, selected history, operation, and references, for the Traffic Service Position System. More good information at (external link)

Method and apparatus for automating special service call handling

United States Patent 4,054,756
Comella , et al. October 18, 1977


The TSPS is comprehensively described in R. J. Jaeger, Jr. et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3,484,560, issued Dec. 16, 1966, and also in the Dec. 1970 issue of the Bell System Technical Journal. . .

FIG. 1 illustrates in block diagram form the manner in which a Special Service Announcement System (SSAS) is added to an existing TSPS office to automate special service calls in accordance with the principles of our invention.

1.1 Prior Art TSPS System

With the advent of TSPS, many of the functions previously performed by an operator at a cordboard were automated. More specifically, a customer at a coin station CS would make an initial deposit and then dial a 1 followed by 7 or 10 digits. The local office LO routes the call to a TSPS trunk TRK1 and down conductors T1 to the TSPS network NET. Stored program controller SPC, which is a duplicated processing unit for performing arithmetical and logical functions on data in accordance with its stored program [Computer memory, ed.], controls network controller NTC to establish connection P1. The local office transmits the calling and called digits to digit receiver DR via conductors T1 in the normal manner.

The TSPS rates the call and displays the charge and initial period information to an operator at a position such as position POS. A new network connection (not shown) is then established between conductors T1 and position POS by TSPS network NET. While the operator at position POS informs the calling party of the requisite coin deposit, outpulser OTP is controlled by the SPC to outpulse the digits in the called number via path P4 and conductors T2 to toll office TO. When the calling subscriber deposits coins at station CS, distinctive tones are generated thereat indicating the type of coin deposit, i.e., nickel, dime, quarter. While the customer is depositing the coins, the toll office TO establishes the call to the called station in the normal manner. When the called party answers and the operator has determined that the requisite amount has been deposited, the call, under the control of the operator, is cut through by trunk TRK1 directly from the local office LO to the toll office TO.

The TSPS system is also adapted to handle special service calls (such as person-to person, collect, credit card, charge-to-third number, and time and charges) originated from either coin stations such as CS or regular stations such as CSB. Generally, these calls are processed by an operator at position POS, who requests information from the calling station and then utilizes the received information to request whether or not the called station or third party station accepts the call. For further details of how TSPS processes typical calls see page 2435 et seq. in the December 1970 Bell System Technical Journal.

Many, many more related pages! Click for a list. Information on J.R. Snyder Jr., operators, directory assistance working and history, placing toll calls and so on. Great reading.

a look inside a modern telecommunications company logo West Sacramento, California, USA. A Tom Farley production




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