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A walk down memory lane

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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 12:00 am

Thank you for the article on the Electronic Switching System AUTOVON in the July 6 edition of the News-Sentinel. It was a nice — and nostalgic — trip down memory lane for me, because I was one of the Western Electric Co. supervisors responsible for the installation of the ESS element of the AUTOVON system in the Lodi-02 office. This job was what brought me and my small family to Lodi in February 1967.

My job was to supervise the installation and testing of this system, in advance of the turnkey turnover to Pacific Telephone Company (this was prior to the breakup of AT&T, when Pac Bell was subsumed into AT&T) personnel for their maintenance. After almost a year, we completed the project in 1968.

The Lodi project was my second ESS AUTOVON project, the first being the Mojave ESS AUTOVON project, wherein I was a technician until shortly before its turnover in 1966, if my memory serves me correctly. The Mojave project was the first ESS AUTOVON on the West Coast, and I believe, the second in the U.S. It was quite an experience, as much of that ESS machine — mainly software — was engineered (or re-engineered) on the job by engineering staff present at the site, from Bell Laboratories in Chicago. The Mojave AUTOVON served Edwards AFB, just a few miles down the road from the station.

Incidentally, the ESS AUTOVON project was not my only ESS involvement in Lodi: I also supervised the installation of the No. 2 ESS in the Lodi-01 (Main) office in approximately 1974 (?), which replaced the old “Step-by-Step” electromechanical switch which faithfully served Lodi from the 1950s; and later, the No. 5 ESS in approximately 1987 (?), which is still state-of-the-art today.

It was also good to see names not heard for years — of a few of the many individuals who were associated with the Lodi-02 office and the ESS project back in 1967-68. It is hard to imagine that 45 years have passed since that exciting period in our lives!

Thanks for the memories!

Noel Crownover

Manager (retired)

Labor Relations, AT&T

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