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Bob Estreich

In 1969 I started as a clerk in the District Telephone Office of the PMG Department in Grafton. The first major job I was involved in was the cutover of Grafton and South Grafton exchanges to automatic. I saw a few of the older phones recovered from the cutover, but never kept any of them. My collection started accidentally. When the new plastic wallfones were released we were told that due to short supply they were for essential maintenance only. In the office we were taking bets on which technician would be the first to require "essential maintenance" in his own home. A technician from Woodburn was the first, and it just so happened that it was his mother's phone that had to be replaced. When I kidded him about it, he sent me down the old phone, a 137 wallset with the clapper arm broken off the rocker. That started it.

I started picking up other phones as opportunities came up, but it wasn't until Jim Bateman published his book that I could start collecting in a more organized way. Thanks Jim - you set me off on a hobby I have been enjoying now for about thirty years. I also joined the ATCS and found a bunch of great people who were only too happy to help a beginner.

Over the years my collection has grown, then been reduced to a smaller selection of "interesting" phones as I ran out of space. The history of the phones and the companies that built them interested me, and I started looking for more information. I started researching for a catalogue of Ericsson phones (still under way) following a suggestion by Greg Edmonds, and picked up a lot of info on other companies as well.

When Bob Mills put out his appeal for articles for the Newsletter some years ago I offered to write up some of this information for him. This now seems to have got a bit out of hand. With international contacts and more information available on the Internet, I find I can put together a pretty comprehensive and better-researched article in about six months to a year. I have started including the details of my reference sources in the articles so other collectors can go back to them later if needed. Armidale, where I live, is a University town and some of my academic friends have convinced me that this is the best way to go.

Although the articles are not always complete due to lack of available information, I see them as a starting point for later collectors to work from. And if you have one of the phones in your collection, I hope you enjoy finding out a bit more about the company that made it. With the phones themselves getting harder to find, writing about them is just as satisfying to me as dusting and polishing the real thing.

The next step is to get all the information together on a website for everyone's reference. It's actually up and running now, but is full of programming errors and busted links that I haven't yet fixed. Real Soon Now....

Bob Estriech

Sadly, Bob passed away in 2011 after a long illness however his legacy lives on as his beloved web site "Bob's Old Phones" is now part of this ATCS web site and can be accessed from the home page.

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