AT&T Tech Channel

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"TOPES (Telephone Office Planning and Engineering System)"

Described as "a modern, efficient aid for space planners and engineers," TOPES was a time-shared Computer Aided Building Design system (CABD) developed by Bell Labs to be used to plan and design building space for their own telecommunications offices. Using Direct Distance Dialing lines (DDD), it offered interactive graphics teleconferencing which was capable of connecting up to 22 terminals at once. TOPES used FORTRAN IV code and data files; the host computer was housed at Western Electric’s Data Center in Kearny, New Jersey.

This film details multiple features of the service. The five units that TOPES was comprised of – Designing, Planning, News, Data and Archives – are explained and shown one by one as we follow a project through its various stages, including the "TOPES-O-GRAM," an early form of email.

This detailed presentation of TOPES and its various features gives a view of the computer world as it approached what would prove to be an astonishing era in technology, with changes soon coming faster than anyone anticipated.

Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ


Release date: 05/12/2015





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