AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

NOTE: this description has been updated.

Here were the responsibilities of the TSPS operator, circa 1980 (six years after this recruiting film was made)—TSPS operators worked with both coin and "non-coin" (i.e. regular business or residence) calls:

  • Obtaining billing information for credit card or third-number calls
  • Identifying called customer on person-to-person calls
  • Obtaining acceptance of charges on collect calls
  • Identifying calling numbers
  • Monitoring coin deposits
  • Handling operator assistance calls

The job category for this recruitment film—of TSPS operator—was, ultimately, short-lived. The TSP technology for the job was first installed in 1969, concurrent with that of the 1ESS switch. In 1977, a new billing system—the automated coin toll system, or ACTS, was first installed in one location, and that part of the TSPS operator's job would became obsolete—though it would take decades to fully update the network. That same year, AT&T also introduced a system that would allow the blind or visually-impaired to do the job of TSPS operator.

In the 1990s, the company began to distance itself from the payphone long distance business. By 2002, the ACTS system—and AT&T payphone long distance—was gone for good.

TSPS operators' jobs got shifted to the position of OSPS operators, using computer terminals instead of boards, in conjunction with the introduction of the 5ESS system. As of 2002, there were fewer than 1,000 OSPS operators in the United States.

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

Release date: 01/16/2012