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Dumpster Diving Part One: Meet the Nortel Meridian Norstar Modular Key Phone System/PBX

I recently partook in a pleasure which I have not indulged for some years. I went dumpster diving.

I noticed a company was tossing out their old Meridian phones and made plans to return at night in hopes of scoring the whole system. These phones, unfortunately, are useless without the ICS or Integrated Communications System as they have special power requirements and communicate voice data digitally.

A little background information from wikipedia:

The Meridian Norstar, later called Nortel Norstar was a small-office digital PBX introduced by Northern Telecom (now Nortel). It is based on the same internal design and instruction set as Nortel's earlier SL-1 and DMS systems, allowing it to support features such as integrated voice messaging, automatic call distribution and other features, but can support a total of up to 192 phones and has limited processing power. In the United Kingdom it is sold by British Telecom, rebadged as the BT Norstar.

I've had the pleasure of using these old Norstar phones for years. They can survive torture and their speaker phone capability is still among the best 24 years later.

They are also badass retro. I had to have my own.

I went back at night with a 6 foot long yagi antenna and fished out a dozen black and beige phones. Much to my relief the ICS was also in the bin - intact - along with a 16-line copper trunk expansion module and FlashTalk voicemail/automatic operator module.

I will be writing about my adventures playing with these units in the coming weeks. Until then, enjoy these snazzy photos:

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