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Gizmos A - Z

Accoson Sphygmomanometer

Acoustic Coupler

Advance PP5 Stabilised PSU

Aibo ERS-111 Robotic Pet

Aiwa LX-110 Linear Turntable

Aiwa TP-32A Tape Recorder

Alcatel Minitel 1 Videotex

Aldis Folding Slide Viewer

Alpha-Tek Pocket Radio

Airlite 71 Aviation Headset

AKG K290 Surround 'Phones

Amerex Alpha One Spycorder

Amstrad NC100 Notepad

AN/PRC-6 Walkie Talkie

Astatic D-104 Desk Microphone

Apple Macintosh SE FDHD

Avia Electronic Watch

Aitron Wrist Radio

Aiwa TP-60R Tape Recorder

Amstrad CPC 464 Computer

AlphaTantel Prestel

Atari 2600 Video Game

Atari 600XL Home Computer

Audiotronic LSH 80 'Phones

AVO Multiminor

AVO Model 8 Multimeter

Bambino Challenger Radio

Bandai Solar LCD Game

Baygen Freeplay Lantern

Bellwood, Bond Spycorder

Benkson 79 Mini Tape Recorder

Betacom BF1 Pianotel Phone

Binatone Digivox Alarm

Binatone Long Ranger 6 CB

Binatone Mk6 Video Game

Bio Activity Translator

Biri-1 Radiation Monitor

Bowmar LED Digital Watch

Boots CRTV-50 TV,Tape, Radio

Brydex Ever Ready Lighter

BSB Squarial

BT Genie Phone

Cambridge Z88 Computer

Candlestick Telephone

Canon Ion RC-260 Camera

Cartex TX-160 Multiband Radio

Casio VL-Tone Keyboard

CD V-700 Geiger Counter

CD V-715 Survey Meter

CDV-717 Survey Meter

CD V-742 Pen Dosimeter

Channel Master 6546

Chinon 722-P Super 8 Cine

Citizen Soundwich Radio Watch

Citizen ST555 Pocket TV

Clairtone Mini Hi Fi Radio

CocaCola Keychain Camera

Coke Bottle AM Radio

Commodore 64 Home PC

Commodore PET 2001-N

Computer Novelty AM/FM Radio

Compact Marine SX-25

Concord F20 Sound Camera

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

Dansette Richmond Radio

Daiya TV-X Junior  Viewer

Dancing Coke Can

Dawe Transistor Stroboflash

Diamond Rio Media Player

Dictograph Desk Phone

Direct Line Phones x2

Dokorder PR-4K Mini Tape

Eagle Ti.206 Intercom

Eagle T1-206 Intercom

Eagle International Loudhailer

Electrolysis Cell

Electron 52D Spycorder

Electronicraft Project Kit

Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart Radio

EMS Stammering Oscillator

Ericsson Ericofon Cobra Phone

Etalon Luxor Light Meter

Euromarine Radiofix Mk 5

Exactus Mini Add Calculator

Fairylight Morse Set

FEP Microphone & Earphone

Ferguson FC08 Camcorder

Ferguson FHSC 1 Door Cam

Fi-Cord 101 Tape Recorder

Fi-Cord 202 Tape Recorder

Fidelity HF42 Record Player

Fisher-Price 826 Cassette

Fleetwood Globe AM Radio

Franklin LF-390 Guitar Radio

Gaertner Pioneer Geiger Counter

GE 3-5805 AM CB Radio

GEC Transistomatic

GEC Voltmeter

General Radiological NE 029-02

Giant Light Bulbs

Giant Watch-Shaped  Radio

Gowlland Auriscope

GPO Headset No. 1

GPO Keysender No 5

GPO RAF Microphone No. 3

GPO Telephone Series 300

GPO Telephone Type 746

GPO 12B/1 Test Meter

GPO Trimphone

GPO Ring Microphone No 2

Gramdeck Tape Recorder

Grandstand Video Console

Grundig EN3 Dictation

Grundig Memorette

H&G Crystal Radio

Hacker Radio Hunter RP38A

Hacker Radio Mini Herald

Hanimex Disc Camera

Harvard Batalion Radio

Henica H-138 Radio Lighter

Hero HP-101 Intercom

Hitachi MP-EG-1A Camcorder

Hitachi WH-638 Radio

Hitachi VM-C1 Camcorder

HMV 2210 Tape Recorder

Homey HR-408 Recorder

Horstmann Pluslite Task Lamp

Ianero Polaris Spotlight

Ingersoll XK505 TV, Radio

International HP-1000 Radio

Internet Radio S-11

James Bond TV Watch

Jasa AM Wristwatch Radio

Juliette LT-44 Tape Recorder

Jupiter FC60 Radio

JVC GR-C1 Camcorder

JVC GX-N7E Video Camera



King Folding Binoculars

Kodak Brownie Starflash

Kodak 56X Instamatic

Kodak 100 Instamatic

Kodak EK2 'The Handle'

Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kodak Pony 135

Kvarts DRSB-01 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-88 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-90 Geiger Count

Kyoto S600 8-Track Player

Magnetic Core Memory 4kb

Maplin YU-13 Video Stabilizer

Marlboro Giant  AM Radio

Mattel Intellivision

Maxcom Cordless Phone

McArthur Microscope OU

Memo Call Tape Recorder

Micronta 22-195A Multimeter

Micronta 3001 Metal Detector

Microphax Case II Fiche

Midland 12-204 Tape Rccorder

Mini Com Walkie Talkies

Minolta 10P 16mm Camera

Minolta-16 II Sub Min Camera

Minolta XG-SE 35mm SLR

Minolta Weathermatic-A

Minox B Spy Camera

Mohawk Chief Tape Recorder

Motorola 5000X Bag Phone

Motorola 8500X ‘Brick’

Motorola Micro TAC Classic

MPMan MP-F20 MP3 Player

Music Man Talking Radio

Mystery Microphone

Nagra SN Tape Recorder

National Hyper BII Flashgun

National RQ-115 Recorder

NatWest 24 Hour Cashcard


Widget Of The Week

Pye TMC 1705 Linesman’s Telephone, 1970

It’s such a mundane and everyday activity that few of us ever think about what happens when we make, or take, a phone call. By the way, we’re talking about proper telephones, the sort that are connect to a local exchange by wires, not those new fangled mobile jobbies… Anyway, the point is that most of the time phone calls simply happen; but what about when something goes wrong? To fix those problems, and try to stop them occurring in the first place there’s small army of engineers. They’re responsible for keeping the UK telephone networks up and running, and until comparatively recently a lot of them would have something very like this Linesman’s Telephone as part of their tool kit.


Now this is where it gets a bit complicated, and a tad pedantic because the instrument you see here is actually a Pye TMC 1705. This is the military version of the one used by GPO and BT engineers, which has the designation 704A, or Linesman’s Phone B. However, apart from the badge on the top of the case and one or two minor technical differences they are practically identical. This model, one of a very long line of portable test telephones, was first issued in 1968 and was apparently still in service 20 years later. At around that time telephone exchanges across the country were being converted to digital operation and most domestic phones were starting to appear with numeric keypads, rather than dials, so these old warhorses had to be replaced by more sophisticated test instruments.


Basically it is very simple, it’s a portable telephone designed for use in the field, up a pole or indeed anywhere there was a fault, or suspected fault. It has all of the features of a regular phone, namely a handset, rotary dial and an internal ringer or buzzer, but there the similarity ends. The most obvious difference is the size, and that’s due in part to the rugged carry case, which clearly suited its role in military service. Unlike a normal phone, though, it has a pair of terminals, for a temporary connection to a phone line, and there are extra sockets for a headset, and a ‘Tone Amplifier’. This is an add-on that helps an engineer to identify pairs of cables, and if you’ve ever seen the rat’s nest of wires inside one of those kerbside junction boxes you’ll understand how useful this can be.  There’s another novel feature on the handset earpiece, and it is one of the few differences between the 1705 and 704 models; it’s a small white button connected to the microphone or transmitter. On the civilian 704 the button can be latched in the cut-off position, on the 1705 it operates as a PTT (push-to-talk) switch. The requirements for such a switch are many and various, from carrying out certain types of test, to being able to silently monitor calls.


The most significant difference between a 704/1705 and a regular phone, though, is the internal battery, comprising three 1.5-volt D cells, and that’s where the three position switch on the top panel, marked CB, LB and Ringer comes in. CB and LB are short for central battery and local battery, which has to do with the way phone networks are, or rather were powered. In the very early days – around the turn of the twentieth century – each telephone had to have its own set of batteries. Early batteries were messy and expensive, and a major maintenance headache, but within a few years those local batteries were replaced by large banks of batteries at the nearest telephone exchange. The need for a local battery feature on a modernish test phone might seem a bit archaic, but a lack of power is one of the myriad faults that can occur on a telephone network, so it can be quite handy for engineers to have a phone that can operate independently. In case you’re wondering the Ringer position on that 3-position switch mentioned a moment ago does exactly what it says. It’s spring loaded and when the 704/1705 is in LB mode or used for testing, pressing the Ringer switch makes the phone to which it is connected ring, buzz, beep or do whatever it does.


Here’s a quick one for trivia fans. In the olden days of local battery operation phones were without dials so you had to signal the exchange to let them know that you wanted to make a call. To do that you had to crank a small generator or magneto, fitted to the side of your phone or installed in a nearby bell box. When the call was over you were supposed to notify the exchange with quick crank of your magneto, and that is where the expression ‘ringing off’ came from. See, gadget collecting can be educational, as well as fun…


And so we come to this particular 1705, which came into my possession many, many years ago. Exactly how many, I can’t remember, but I know it didn’t cost me a bean as I swapped it for parts and spares with another vintage phone collector. It had been quite well used with a fair few scratches and marks on the case and there were signs of a leaky battery but luckily the there was only light corrosion on the contacts and it cleaned up well. It was minus the case lid latch, but this is an easily obtainable part and I probably will get around to replacing it one day. The dial was a bit sluggish too but a few spots of light oil on the mechanism had it purring again. It still works, there’s not a lot to go wrong, but its days of being a useful test instrument are over and as a house phone it leaves a lot to be desired. In any case mine hardly ever rings these days, and every other call I make seems to involve pressing the hash or star key at some point…    


Pye and TMC go way back, to 1896 in the case of the company formed by one William George Pye. TMC or The Telephone Manufacturing Company of Britain was formed in 1920, and until the 1960s they were separate, but often overlapping suppliers of telecommunications equipment to the GPO then BT and The Ministry of Defence. Pye eventually bought out TMC and in 1976 they were swallowed up by the (then) mighty Dutch Philips Group, where eventually the two once distinctive brands quietly faded away. As a matter of interest this 1705 has the code TMA stamped on the inside of the lid; the interweb suggests that this indicates it was made in TMC’s Airdrie factory, which was sold off by Philips in the mid 1990s. 


What Happened To It?

I suspect that Linesman’s test phones have been around since a day or two after the telephone was invented, which was probably when the first fault was reported. Most of the 704/1705’s predecessors are immediately recognisable as test instruments, though not all of them are so bulky. Some like the famous Telephone 280 or ‘Buttinski’ are almost pocket size. The big difference in the 704/1705’s immediate successors, which started to appear in the mid to late seventies following the changeover to digital exchanges, was the addition of a digital keypad and extra features designed to speed up fault finding.


For purists the disappearance of the rotary dial has meant that linesman’s phone have lost a lot of their appeal so by rights the 704/1705 should be a sought after collectable, except that they were made in vast numbers. There are usually plenty of clean and keenly priced ones on ebay, with prices starting at well under £20. They’re also no stranger to car boot sales and if anyone tries to sell you one for more than £10, tell them what they can do with it. Don’t be put off though; no collection of vintage phones is complete without at least one of them. They make an interesting addition to any occasional table or hallstand and a guaranteed conversation starter at parties. What’s more, if you’re handy with a screwdriver, you could cobble together a simple intercom with another old phone, so you can call the wife or kids from the garage or shed where you have been sent, to indulge in your strange hobby… 


First seen          1970

Original Price   £? (a lot…)

Value Today     £10 (0716)

Features           2-wire connection, two transistor internal buzzer/ringer. LB/CB (local/central battery) operation, rotary dial, transmitter cut-off switch (on handset), external headset socket, tone amplifier sockets

Power req.                     3 x 1.5v D cells

Dimensions:                   300 x 145 x 155mm

Weight:                          2.8kg

Made (assembled) in:    Airdrie Scotland

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):  5




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