|Hawes Games & Gaming Archive||
Wiltelco® 5000 Smart Pay Phone, Part 1
Before You Ask
MANUALS. I don't have Wiltelco parts, manuals or software to sell. I don't know who does.
Ancient Phone History
NOT NECESSARILY PINBALL. Most people remember Williams Electronics for its spectacular, top-of-the-line pinball machines. So do I, and I worked at Williams for many years. Yet I also worked for a little-known and short-lived branch of the company, Williams Telephone Company. This branch company had another name, the catchy Wiltelco. Actually, Wiltelco is a sub-branch of our former contract manufacturing service, WIT. WIT stands for Williams Innovative Technologies. The WIT office was in Gurnee, Illinois. This office borrowed space from our PC board and video game manufacturing facility. This facility was once at 1910 Swanson Court. For a few years after the Star Rider debacle in 1983, Gurnee had plenty of surplus capacity. WIT sought to harness the factory for new purposes. During this period, through WIT's efforts, Gurnee churned out modems for Apple and US Robotics.
DAWN OF WILTELCO. In 1985, WIT spawned Wiltelco. The fledgling outfit moved back to Williams' famous Chicago office at 3401 North California Avenue. Meanwhile, Don Hassler's employees continued to manufacture our phones in the Gurnee plant. The Chicago group soon developed a maverick image. Its WIT roots showed. Wiltelco behaved like Williams at its craziest. What a fascinating company! The management had knitted together a cadre of brilliant, aggressive, can-do individualists. Every employee was an entrepreneur.
MY START. At the time, I was freelancing on weekends for Tom Cahill in the pinball division. In the spring of 1986, I wrapped up The Pinball Troubleshooting and Maintenance Manual. Tom mentioned an opening at Wiltelco. I interviewed with John Huddleston and Wally Smolucha. Before long, I'd landed my next technical writing contract. Soon, I was delving into the technical mysteries inside the Wiltelco Model 5000 phone.
A RELIC. The Model 5000 phone is a relic from the mid-1980s. The 6000 is much more sophisticated. If you find one, it would be a rare prototype. Both models are cool. I don't know why we decided to stop making the 5000. It was just starting to sell when we shut down production during the summer of 1987. Unfortunately, the 6000 phone wasn't ready yet. All we had were several handmade mockups. Fred Stonum's technicians also built their own Model 6000 test fixtures.
Writing the Manuals
MESOZOIC TECH. I wrote the Wiltelco manuals and scripted Wiltelco training and promotional videos. The phone days were a long time ago, back in 1986 and 1987. Probably nothing from that era remains in usable digital form. In those days, we worked on primitive, DOS computers with 5.25-inch floppies. There was no universal file format such as Adobe Acrobat. Modems were far too slow for sending manuals to the printer electronically. On the other hand, we didn't waste a lot of time puzzling over file conversion problems.
IBM VS. COMPAQ. I remember the day when Ray Kielminski delivered my “speedy” 7.68-MHz 286 PC. Soon thereafter, I installed a Hard Card. The new option card added a hard disc with a size somewhere in the tens of megabytes. Wow. What a world! My new, fleet-footed IBM rescued me from my previous system, a Compaq luggable. Compaq's 28-pounder had a jumbo, nine-inch screen and two floppies.
TO HISTORY GUMSHOES. Suppose that you discover my old files in an unknown storage facility somewhere. First, floppy diskettes are somewhat less than an archival format. Magnetized oxide loses its charge. By now, the ones and zeros on old discs would be hard to differentiate. Also, with time, the oxide binders tend to break down. (Don't we all?) Finding a usable 5.25-inch drive is fairly difficult, too. Next hurdle: You'd need some means of converting WordPerfect 4.2 DOS files! Much of my early work was in Multimate (ugh!), Word for DOS, or other oddball and ghastly formats. The 5000 manual master included headlines in Word for DOS but text in Multimate. Ray Kielminski ran the entire manual through the HP LaserJet twice! Nice way to spend a weekend. (I'm still grateful for your help, Ray.) May these dead software formats rest in peace.
Model 5000 Phone Orientation
INTRODUCTION TO WILTELCO PHONES. Trying to restore a classic, Wiltelco (Williams Telephone Company) payphone? Wouldn't it be a neat addition to your game room? Below is a phone orientation from page 3-4 of my Wiltelco 5000 manual, circa 1986. Those were the days!
How to Access the 12 Service Numbers
Go to Page: 1 2 Next
Line drawing of 5000 phone by the late Jim Ross
Copyright © 2010 by James T. Hawes. All rights reserved.