800 Series ACF (Automatic ColorFone)
Released in 1962 in the PMG days, this phone was an Australian-designed model taking advantage of modern plastics and electronics. The original version, the 801 series, is distinguished by having the numbers around the outside of the dial. There were actually three dials used in the range as a standard Australian dial was not yet being manufactured. Each dial came with an adapter plate with the numbers correctly located for that model of dial. When the standard dial became available in 1970 there was a minor update and the the numbers were moved under the fingerholes and the new range designated 802 series. This did away with the need for the adapter plate. This caused some problems for the visually impaired and Telecom released a Large Number Ring, a plastic ring with raised black numbers which simply stuck on to the face of the phone around the dial. Many models were derived from this basic phone. Some examples are listed on the next page. There are more details of the 800 series in Australian Post Office section.
801 / 802 Colour range : Top Row: Lacquer Red, Topaz Yellow, Mist Grey
Bottom Row: Black, Light Ivory, Fern Green.
From Telecom Product manual, approx. 1976
Light Ivory was the most popular color. Mist Grey was extremely unpopular and was mostly used as a base for the modified phones produced for other purposes. It was intended as a standard office color. Lacquer Red found a small market among customers who preferred a stronger color, as did Fern Green. Topaz Yellow was probably the second most popular choice after Ivory, but in strong sunlight it was found to suffer the fading problem that has haunted Australian phones from the first bakelite models. The black colour was rarely listed in the brochures, although it was issued in both 801 and 802. This reflected a small but steady demand for what was really a rather attractive phone. An extremely rare version was also produced in a clear case for training and display.
in the early 1970s an enterprising Telecom Business Office was offering 801s in
the colours of local football teams. This was achieved by mixing and matching standard phone cases and handsets. The practice
was soon stopped on orders from Headquarters.
In the early 1970s an official-looking instruction was issued regarding a new "left-handed telephone", which featured a reversed dial (achieved by modifying the photo) and the handset cord on the left side of the phone (achieved by turning the handset around). The date, April 1st, should have given it away as an April Fool's joke but some Telecom Business Offices actually took orders before another VERY official instruction put an end to it.
For details of the developments and modifications of the 800/8000 series. go to this page.
By the time the T200 telephone was introduced as a replacement, over 8 million 800 series phones were in use. Some millions were recovered and sold off to countries like Russia, Poland, Tanzania and a number of developing countries where dial technology was still quite acceptable. Feral 800s still turn up today in Australia, many in working condition - a tribute to the quality of the design.