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ITT System 12

In May 1980, ITT was granted a major U.S. Patent which formed the core of what was to become the System 1240. By 1980, ITT recognized that rapid advances in VLSI technology and low-cost microprocessors made possible the integration of voice and data services into a digital network.

The System 1240 anticipated the complex user interfaces and significantly increased call handling capacity of what would years later be called ISDN.

Intended as a flagship product to be marketed around the world, the System 1240 had to be economical over a wide range of sizes, be scalable and allow evolution in technology without significant architectural impacts.

Only through software could these requirements be met and the distributed control architecture with it's digital switching matrix, standard interfaces and modularity made System 1240 a true digital central office.

North American 1240

Adapting the System 1240 to meet North American standards was especially expensive. More than one thousand specific telephone features and service requirements had to be met. These predominantly software based requirements presented enormous design challenges particularly for a management team that was hardware centric. The System 1240 central office team was located in Raleigh, NC. The System 1240 STP team which I became a member of was based in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Winter Park Telecom

The initial North American contract for a System 1240 was with Winter Park Telecom near Orlando, FL. Delivery was set for what I seem to recall being Jan 1986.

I was part of the System 1240 STP group in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Rumors were that the central office schedule was in serious jeopardy and those rumors were confirmed one morning circa Oct 1985 when my manager came through the office handing out airplane tickets and envelopes of travelers checks to anyone that could be on an afternoon flight from Orlando to Raleigh.

Those unable to leave that day had until the following day to be on a plane heading to Raleigh. My apartment was just a few blocks away, so I quickly volunteered for the afternoon flight. I left the office, packed and went back to the office where I met several other engineers and from there we took a rental car to the Orlando airport.

The following morning in Raleigh, there was a meeting in which we received instructions and were assigned lab shifts. I seem to recall that because I was a fresh graduate, I was assigned to the day shift. The shift leader assigned me test cases which I no longer recall what they were. In Cape Canaveral I was module testing SS7 OAMP code one day and the next day I was in Raleigh testing central office code for features I knew nothing about.

Fortunately, both projects used a scripting meta language called MPTMON which I seem to remember meaning multi-processor test monitor. Anyway, my task was to load scripts and execute them. After the script ran, I would compare actual message flows with those written in the test case. Frequently, the messages didn't match and in such cases, I would take the results to a senior engineer for further analysis.

As the schedule became more perilous, our work week became 7 days. We worked right through Thanksgiving and continued with the 24/7 lab schedules until Christmas. The lab shifts were rotating and we rotated shifts by working forward a double shift. When I got back to my apartment in Cape Canaveral that Christma, the power had been shut off and the inside of the refrigerator was a hybrid organic garden and biohazard.

I spent two or three days in Cape Canaveral and then it was back to Raleigh to resume the 24/7 testing. I stayed in Raleigh through the first of February 1986 and was back in Cape Canaveral when word went out that after spending $200 million on the North American development, the entire North American System 1240 project had been cancelled and we were all laid off.

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