By 1978 expertise in electronic phones had reached the point where it became practical to issue the first standard Touchfone. Known as the Touchfone 10, it used a semi-mechanical keypad and the usual electromechanical bells. It was issued in a choice of Grey (they just couldn't let this color go) or Ivory and, because of its extra rental charge, it was unpopular. It was also rather uncomfortable to use. The keypad buttons needed more pressure than was comfortable, and the handset was still quite heavy. The model evolved, however. Within two years an electronic ringer had been added and an improved keypad. A more attractive range of colours was selected and the buttons were changed from white to dark brown. Customers were becoming used to the higher rent and this model was more popular. Finally, in the biggest revision to date, the range was again remodelled with an all-plastic frame and base, touchtone keypad with twelve buttons in line with new international standards and six new pastel colours. Public acceptance was quite high and eventually the model became the replacement for the dial series and the premium price was dropped.
Left: Telecom brochure 1980
Touchfone 10 (Tele 805) Grey ((of course) and Ivory, white keys, colour matched cords, 1977 up to early 1980. Pulse signalling, also called decadic. Tele 806 was the VF (tone) signalling equivalent
Touchfone 10 Mk 1 in grey.The early, rare model with white keypad buttons.
Touchfone 10 (Tele 805) Mk2 in Sandstone, Coal Brown and Bone were added to the range in 1980 to 1984. The keypad now had brown keys. The Coal Brown model, particularly, attracted a lot of interest and sales. Pulse signalling.
Touchfone 10 Mk 2 in new colors, brown keypad. Grey and Ivory were still available.
Touchfone 12 (Tele 806 redesignated as Tele 805 Mk3B) , Now with VF (tone) signalling for the newer electronic exchanges and PABXs that were appearing. They were fitted with a 12-number keypad in line with international standards. Issued in Bone, Sandstone and Coal Brown. From early 1980 to mid 1984.
Touchfone 12 Mk 4 (Tele 807)
Pulse signalling, 1984 - 1986. Still with a metal base, electronic ringer and volume control. In 1985 they became the standard (no extra cost) Telecom phone, finally replacing the 800 dial phones. Line cords were now teak colour on all models, and all now had white keys. The new pastel color range was Musk (pink-brown), Golden Haze, Cinnamon. Sage Green, and Fleece White, all of which seemed equally popular with customers. The standard 6-connector wall plug stayed until January 1985, then changed to a 4-connector plug (slightly smaller). They were now fitted with flat cords. In what was seen by staff as a major policy change, Grey was finally dropped. It wasn't missed by staff or customers. The white nylon switchhooks were changed to a beige color in January 1985. In May 1985 the transmitter insert was upgraded to a new model. The receiver remained the Type 4T which was introduced in the 400 series. The receiver cap had a single circle of holes.
A VF-only version was also issued from 1984 to 1986 but this would have been mainly used on the new electronic PABXs coming into use. The Public Switched Telephone Network at this stage was still mostly electromechanical.
Touchfone 12 Mk 5 )Tele 809) The final version of the Touchfone 12, from 1986 to 1988. This universal model had the same color range, but now had switchable VF or Pulse signalling, an all-plastic frame and base, and a loud electronic ringer, RJ12 modular plug connector, revised keypad in off-white matte finish, and a case moulded from a better ultraviolet and sun-resistant plastic. It was replaced by the Touchfone 200 series. This marked the end of a 25-year product life for the 800/8000 series, which took Australia from 1920s manual technology to completely automatic national service.
I am indebted to Greg Haywood for making his research on these phones available. Greg has compiled this information from hundreds of phones. It has been a huge job researching the upgrades, modifications and production dates, since the APO and Telecom did not keep much in the way of records of the phone's development. Thanks, Greg.