[TUHS] Early 70's WECo "Turnkey Systems"? Re: S.S. Pirzada UNIX Paper

segaloco via TUHS tuhs at tuhs.org
Fri Dec 29 16:30:28 AEST 2023

In S.S. Pirzada's 1988 paper[1], page 35, section 3.3.2, he writes:

"Some operating telephone companies and the switching control center system (SCCS) group in Holmdel, NJ decided to use UNIX to collect maintenance data from their switches and for administration purposes. Other departments also started building applications on top of UNIX, some part of turnkey systems licensed by Western Electric (WECo)."

This is describing the situation before the establishment of USG in September 1973.  I'm curious, does anyone recall what some of these pre-USG WECo "turnkey systems" were?

The things that come to mind when I think of that phrase don't come about for several years, such as the 5ESS and other work surrounding Bellmac stuff.  The SCCS UNIX connection describes what becomes CB-UNIX if I understand the situation correctly, but that stays a bit afield from the more conventional pool that is dipped into for WECo needs.  Switching and UNIX all kinda come back together with DMERT on 1A/3B-API and 5ESS, but again that's late 70s R&D, early 80s deployment, not this time period, leaving me terribly curious what WECo would've been bundling UNIX with and shipping out to telcos.  The famous early use of UNIX in the Bell System is typography, and WECo did have involvement with Teletype equipment, so perhaps something along those lines?

If it helps set the scene, a binder I recently picked up from ~1972 describing Western Electric test sets distributed to telcos describes the following additional classes of such documents:

Shop Services - Special non-standard products
Public Telephones - System standard public telephone equipment
Data Communications - Teletypewriter and Data Sets
Subscriber Products - System standard PBX's, station equipment and special services
Non-Subscriber Products - Microwave, cable, power equipment, etc.
Non-Bell Equipment Index - Non-Bell System manufactured communication equipment

Unfortunately haven't seen any of the other binders yet but I've been keeping an eye out, one or another might describe something WECo was shipping around that had some UNIX up in it.  Nothing in this binder seems computer-y enough to run an operating system, just lots of gauges, dials, and probes.  Luckily it is quite clear what data test sets are designed for 103-data set maintenance so I have fodder for seeking Dataphone tools...

Anywho, happy soon to be new year folks, I'm excited to see what turns up next year!

- Matt G.

[1] - https://spiral.imperial.ac.uk/bitstream/10044/1/7942/1/Shamim_Sharfuddin_Pirzada-1988-PhD-Thesis.pdf

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