Australian Post Office 800 Series

These phones have a historical attachment for me. When I joined the APO as a junior clerk, these were the phones we were issuing to new customers. The design was still quite new, and they were being used to replace all the older models in the massive upgrade and automation of Australia's phone system.

The phones were Australian-designed and produced, apart from the initial supplies of dials. They used newer thermoplastics than the U.S. phones, had a rounded style based on a Belgian phone, and used updated electronics modelled on a British phone. They worked well over our long phone lines and generally proved reliable and rugged in service. The earliest 801 series, as shown, had the numbers on an adaptor plate around the outside of the dial until a standard dial could be mass-produced. The newer model with the numbers under the fingerplate was designated 802.

Many modifications were made to the phone over its thirty-year lifespan (from the mid-1960s) and the basic design was used to produce a number of touchphones and a wall phone range. The black color was not well advertised by the APO or the later Telecom Australia, probably on the basis that people would have had enough of black with the old bakelite phones. In spite of this it proved fairly popular. The grey color was intended to be the basis for a range of business modifications, but it was a boring color and generally disliked.

In spite of Telecom's conscious effort to replace them all with the new T200 in the late 1990s, many survive in working condition. Many of the recovered phones were sold off in bulk to Poland and other countries.

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