The Pickwick system was an early digital encryption system for telephone communication.

The scrambler interface telephone below was built in the UK by Plessey for GCHQ as successors to the Telephone No. SA50XX type.

The receiver on the dial blank served as a ringer/sounder and the drawer contained a user guide.

It is suspected that this telephone was a prototype as the phones that went into service were based on Telephone No. 700 type phones.

The Pickwick telephone was developed to keep transatlantic communication secure between the UK and the US.  They would have been used by John F Kennedy and Harold Macmillan during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

The example in the attached pictures is from the Science Museum collection.

This phone has the body of a GPO 300 type with a Handset No. 1.  It is most probably a Telephone No. 700 which was produced in very small numbers but quickly superseded by the plastic based 700 type telephone.  The receiver also looks like it was from a Handset No. 1 and the lamp, although GPO style, would never have normally been fitted in a button hole.  The Handset is most probably painted red.





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Last revised: February 26, 2022