GLOSSARY OF TERMS


  • Ader receiver. A French design of receiver also used in Britain. Similar in size to a watch receiver, it hangs up with the aid of a large iron ring, which is magnetised and used functionally in the receiver. 
  • Bell receiver. The hand-held receiver used with candlestick telephones and many wall telephones that had a separate microphone. 
  • Braided cord. A telephone cord in which all the wires are enclosed within in one single braided (not plaited) sheath. 
  • Breveté SGDG. Patented without government guarantee (French). 
  • Butt, Butt set, Buttinksi. A portable metal or rubber telephone used by the engineers inside telephone exchanges. The name Buttinski is a mock-Polish word taken from American slang meaning someone who intrudes (butts in) on other people’s conversations. The expression was brought over from Chicago by the men who installed Britain’s first automatic exchanges and has stuck ever since. 
  • Candlestick telephone. The term has two meanings. Normally it is the pedestal type of telephone but older people also apply it to any table telephone with a candelabra-type cradle for the handset (e.g. Tele. 16,Tele. 88. 
  • Cascade. In cascade = in series. 
  • Code C. A signalling system for push-button phones using one earthed
    leg and diodes/full earth in each direction to unbalance the loop, giving 12 code combinations in all. This signalling system for telephones was offered as an alternative to DTMF during the 1960s and 1970s. 
  • Condenser. Older name for capacitor. 
  • Corporation set. Enclosed metal table telephones carrying a municipal coat of arms and by extension, any telephone of the same shape (e.g. Tele. 88). 
  • Daffodil telephone. Older term for the candlestick telephone, on account of the shape of the solid back microphone and the transmitter cup.
  • Desk stand. A candlestick telephone.
  • Dial card. North American term for a dial label.
  • Dial label. The number label fixed in the centre of a telephone dial.
  • DTMF. Abbreviation for dual-tone multi-frequency, a system using combinations of two tones to signify digits. Commonly known as Touch-Tone and used on all modern telephones.
  • Extension. Any telephone other than the main telephone connected to a direct exchange line or to a PBX. Technically PAX telephones are not extensions because they do not extend a public exchange line; instead they should be called stations. Similarly telephones connected to a House Exchange Systems are not extensions because they all have equal status, yet none is the main telephone. 
  • Electronic sounder or ringer. An electronic replacement for a telephone bell. 
  • Field telephone. A portable telephone, usually in a metal, wooden or plastics case, adapted for military use. Not generally popular with collectors. 
  • French telephone. If you look for old phones on eBay, you will see a lot of telephones described by their American owners as "French" telephones that turn out to be nothing of the sort—just standard American handset telephones. Why is this? Americans, or at least older Americans, tag any handset phone as 'French'. The reason is that until the 1920s handset telephones were exceedingly uncommon in the USA. In fact they turned up mainly on imported instruments and although an American firm sold handset phones under the 'Grabaphone' banner, these were not used on the public network. One of the sights that made a deep impression on American soldiers who went to fight in France during the Great War was telephones with handsets. They had simply never seen these before and when they returned home they termed all handset telephones "French". The nickname has remained to this day. 
  • Hand microtelephone. Handset. 
  • Handset. A combined microphone and receiver, joined by a handle. Not a synonym for a telephone set.
  • High and low impedance. Traditionally the ringers in British telephones were made with an impedance of 1000 ohms (2000 ohms on export models sold to North America). The introduction of the ‘New Wiring Plan’ for plug-in telephones in early 1982 required the use of high impedance (4000-ohm) ringer coils.
  • House Exchange System (HES). A hybrid system combining the features of a push-button intercom and a normal telephone. HES telephones can thus make both internal and external calls without the need for an operator or any kind of internal exchange. Being large and complex, HES telephones are scorned by most collectors. 
    Inset, insert. A microphone or receiver that can be removed as a module from a telephone handset without dismantling the handset. 
  • Intercom, Interphone. short for intercommunicating telephone. Intercoms use a relatively large number of wires and cannot be used on normal exchange lines. Consequently they are not liked by most collectors.
    Key System. A larger version of the House Exchange System.
  • Microtelephone. Handset.
  • Numerator. The small numbering machine used to print subscribers’ numbers on telephone dial labels.
  • Paster. The circuit diagram pasted (glued in fact) inside most telephones. 
  • Pedestal telephone. A candlestick telephone. 
  • Pigtail. A flexible termination for single-core (solid) wire, made by wrapping the wire in a spiral around a piece of rod or screwdriver.
  • Pillar telephone. Either a pedestal telephone or the older pattern of telephone with a wooden box mounted on tope of a brass pillar. 
  • Plaited cord. A telephone cord in which each wire has its own fabric covering and then all the wires are plaited into a single cord. 
  • Resistance. Older name for resistor. 
  • Ringer. A bell inside or associated with a telephone. An electronic ringer is a sounder. It is not an alternative name for a magneto generator, although it is also a shorthand expression for a ringing machine. 
  • Shunt. In shunt is an older expression for in parallel. 
  • Spoon receiver. A form of receiver used mainly on European telephones in which a watch type receiver is mounted on a long wooden handle to make it easier to hold. 
  • Station. In the telephonic sense a station is any place where a telephone is fitted. It may be a single instrument on a direct exchange line, an extension telephone, a PBX extension or whatever. It was and is a convenient term in BPO and BT parlance that mops up all kinds of telephone that can be counted singly. Incidentally, when the word ‘Station’ appeared on a BPO dial label, this was only for a telephone connected to a PAX or else for one of the instruments that made up a house exchange system.
  • Telephone. Normally applied to a complete piece of apparatus for making and receiving calls. Early on the term was applied to what we now call a receiver. 
  • Telephone instrument, telephone set. A complete telephone. 
  • Trafo. (German) transformer. 
  • Tranny. (colloquial) transformer or transistor. 
  • Tulip telephone. See daffodil telephone. 
  • Transmitter. Alternative term for microphone. 
  • Warbler. Electronic sounder.
  • Watch receiver. Small receiver of similar size to an old-fashioned pocket watch, also used in pairs on a headband on older style headsets. 
 
 
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Last revised: April 05, 2010

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