OTHER MAKES OF MTS EQUIPMENT
As mentioned above, even though IMTS equipment was available since 1965, most telephone companies throughout the 1970's remained as manual-MTS systems. As a result, smaller firms continued to manufacture MTS car telephones, probably primarily for the California market, usually using used-refurbished RF drawers by GE, Motorola and others but adding control heads and digital decoders of their own design and manufacture. Some of these are shown below.
CANYON: Canyon Communications, of the Los Angeles area, was most famous for its manufacture of attaché phones but also made the RF sections of its attaché phones available as conventional mobile units ( MTS) in the late 1960's and early 1970's. There were several models, one of which curiously had the RF channel oscillators built inside the control head as shown below. The construction quality and appearance of these Canyon units appears a bit crude. It's easy to recognize that the head below started life as a Western Electric Trimline® wall phone.
Canyon also manufactured a radio package which apparently never came with a control head of their own manufacture. Labeled Mark 900, the same as their attaché phones (see below,) this was rather confusing. Customers were evidently expected to use a Secode or (later) Glenayre or Harris head with it. There was no logic inside the unit itself and it is not the same as the Mark 900 attaché phone. Canyon also manufactured Mark 700 and 800 phones, apparently attaché units, but no data is available.
Click here for interior view of the above MK900 chassis
Canyon was acquired by GCS in the late 1970's, which did a lot of re-engineering and cleaning up of the basic designs, and offered the final, improved versions of the Mark 900 shown above and the fully IMTS attaché phone described in later pages.
Click here for examples of GCS sales literature
CSI : Communications Signaling Inc. was a Los Angeles used-equipment refurbisher which sold mainly Motorola and GE radio packages, some with new control heads of their own construction for MTS use, in the years before IMTS became standard in California (or most other states.) In the 1980's, they also sold both MTS and IMTS reconditioned radios with Glenayre IMTS control heads, as IMTS mobile telephones. They seem to have gone out of business in the early 1990's. The head below is labeled CSI 209 and was supplied connected to a GE CC56 radio package in which the original IMTS supervisory logic had been removed. It was sold under the model name "Superior" and could be had in sixteen different colors! There were two buttons on the handset - - one is the push-to-talk while the other is the channel advance function. The pushbutton caps may not have been black as originally shipped. The decoder circuitry is built into the control head along with a small buzzer. Another example is shown with the International Systcoms mobile telephone shown below. When this control head is in the "scan" mode, the light pattern on the channel lamps is fascinating to watch.
INTERNATIONAL SYSTCOMS: Systcoms was a Canadian company later absorbed by Novatel in the 1980's. See the Systcoms information farther down in the 1974-83 category.
The Systcoms Century radio package in the photo below originally came with a 13 channel Canadian MTS control head in the early 1970's or late 1960's. Here, it has been modified in approximately the mid or late 1970's to use a CSI scanning MTS head, built into an Automatic Electric Starlite telephone housing. The various channel lamps illuminate as the unit is scanning and stop on channels which are available, per settings by the user. The control and signaling logic is entirely contained within the control head, via a set of somewhat simply made circuit boards and pin-jack fields. The transceiver is duplex. This would have been usable in the California Pacific Telephone system up until the 1982 switch to IMTS, or in other areas which were still manual, MTS format (a surprising number of companies only converted to IMTS near the very end of this technology.)
LIVERMORE DATA: Livermore Data Systems of Livermore, California acquired the rights to a mobile and/or attaché phone made by S/C/M Melabs (see below) in 1970 and began production in that year with the LAP-1000A Attaché phone. They had already been engaged in production of computer modems and related items since the 1960's. Their first product was the Envoy 150, an MTS telephone sold primarily as an RCC item. The Envoy 150 was rapidly discontinued and the same item became the "Satellite Channel Search Car Telephone," Model LCP-1010A. The RF package of this telephone looked identical to the later "Satellite" phones as shown below. The control head was a Secode VP-1 style head, which in appearance is the same as the "MJ" ITT control head shown above except that there is a blank plate where the dial would be. See the Livermore Data category in Chapter 8 for more information about this company.
SYMETRICS: Symetrics of Satellite Beach, Florida was a small manufacturer which was making an IMTS mobile telephone by 1970, but little information is available. The photo below has been blown-up from their ad in a 1970 issue of Communications magazine. Note that the head must have been mounted as a prop in the photo, a Camaro interior, because the gearshift looks like it would have had a hard time reaching PARK with that head in that position! Symetrics manufactured two mobile phone versions, the MTS-11 and the IMTS-11, at least through 1976. As the model numbers imply, the MTS-11 was an MTS manual phone while the IMTS-11 was the IMTS version. Power outputs were 20 Watts and there was no UHF version.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL AD FOR THE PHONE ABOVE
S/C/M - Melabs: Melabs, a division of Smith Corona, the typewriter manufacturer, developed an attaché phone design in 1969 that appears to have been the first portable MTS car telephone. Melabs' product was taken over later by Livermore Data (see Livermore Data information below.) The Melabs story is a bit strange, in that in late 1969, they hired a marketing agency to sell distributorships for this new attaché phone across the United States. The agency ran ads in the Wall Street Journal seeking investors, and at meetings in various cities, sold franchises at a price of approximately $ 25,000 - $ 50,000 depending upon the area. Evidently Melabs, and certainly the "investors," were unaware that there were no new customer number assignments available from the AT&T operating companies themselves in most urban areas and some entire states. In other words, the phone customers would be buying a $ 2500 portable telephone which was unusable as no numbers were available. At least one investor who bought a franchise in Indiana sued Melabs in federal court, although unsuccessfully. The text of that decision is available on-line.
It may have been the case that AT&T was holding small banks of numbers for its own leased-phone customers while not making any available for "number assignment only" outside ones , since in 1972 the typical phone lease, using a California example, cost $ 85 per month plus air time charges.
I have been told that there was some sort of lawsuit involving AT&T as well, and by the early 1970's Melabs had sold the design with some tooling and inventory to Livermore Data Corporation after making less than 1000 phones. The physical appearance of the Melabs phone is very similar to the Livermore version. Melabs seems to have produced a mobile version as well, which was the predecessor of the Livermore Data models, but information is lacking on this point. Melabs attaché phones are surprisingly common today despite the small number produced, perhaps because few people would throw away something they paid $ 2500 for, even though it had become useless.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW A 1970 AD FOR THE S/C/M MELABS ATTACHÉ PHONE
INDUSTRIAL RADIO: Industrial Radio of Chicago was primarily known for its manufacture of portable two way "pack set" and "field phone" police radios. In approximately 1965 they marketed the "Aristocrat," a duplex MTS telephone using an Automatic Electric dial "Starlite" telephone as the control head, which was actually just the older ITT "Cinderella" phone mentioned above. Evidently ITT sold the rights to the phone when it exited the car telephone business, and there is evidence that Industrial was the actual manufacturer of the ITT Kellogg branded phones in the first place. In 1965, IMTS had already been introduced, technically making the Aristocrat obsolete, although most areas of the country remained MTS throughout the 1960's if not well into the 1970's. California, in fact, did not convert to IMTS until 1982! Industrial Radio had disappeared by approximately 1968.
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