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Automatic Electric Phones

Black AE Model 40 - a nice deco style phoneThis model 40 is my oldest AE phone. All the AE desktop handset phones before the mid sixties (?) are called "Monophone", and this one is labeled on the base with that name. I got this phone in a second hand shop in Middletown NY. The owner had it under the counter. He said it came from his own house. One of the things I love about this phone, (besides the cool-o deco styling) is the fact that there are no letters on the dial.
Blace AE Model 43 spacesaver


At the left is what is properly called a model 83. I I just love the deco styling, and was concerned that the handset wasn't right for the phone. I'm told that the model 43 (which this phone is actually labeled) is identical, except that it has the older type 41 handset like the phone above. I think I'll make this a proper 43.

The model 183 Space Maker on the right is sometimes referred to as a "bar phone". It's very compact (Space Maker - Duh), and the dial and switchhook can be positioned left right or center, so it can be mounted almost anywhere. There's no internal ringer on these, so they need a ringer box or to serve as an extension phone.

Later plastic AE spacesaver in green - space agey

Black AE model 80 (like a 500 set - but rounder)

In the early '60s Ma Bell decided that their phone designs were the best, and that all the manufacturers should be using them. Suddenly all the phones manufactured in the US started to look mostly alike. Hence the model 80.

Bright Yellow AE 90 wall phone


AE didn't go with the plan for all of it's models. Their wall phone did not follow the mega-corp's design, and in fact the model 90 is one of the most reliable phones ever made. The datestamp on this beauty is 16-6-67.

Nice pink AE starLite rotary phoneThe model 182 Starlite is AE's answer to the Western Electric Princess. It's not quite so little or lovely, but some of them light. The Princess phone uses an external transformer and an incandescent bulb to illuminate the dial. The Starlight uses a space age luminescent panel, and has a regular ac plug coming out beside the phone line hookup wire.

Yellow GTE Touchtone StarLite


Sometime in the mid '60s Automatic Electric was swallowed up by GTE, and started producing more mainstream designs. This model 192 wall phone is stamped Starlite, but also has the GTE logo impressed on the backplate.


AE/GTE Green Styelline Touchtone


This AE/GTE Styleline is very similar to the WE Trimline. It's a little squarer, but otherwise almost exactly the same as the WE offering of similar vintage.
The handset is designated model 980. The bases offered were the 981 for the tabletop, and 982 for the wall..


GTE Linear pushbutton pulse (only) phone - cool Here's an unusual little item. I got a nice email from a former employee of GTE in Canada who identified this model as a Linear. It's dated 1984, and was intended for sale to customers (not lease). It has all kinds of cutting edge features like hold and redial. It even has pushbutton pulse dialing (not pulse tone selectable either). Cool huh?

Most of the model numbers on this page were supplied (or corrected) by another TelCo worker in Canada, who also sent along the following:

Missing is the Model 50 wall phone version of the 40 desk phone. (Sometimes referred to as the "Jukebox" phone.)

There are also a 34 desk and 35 wall phone. They are the predecessors to the 40 and 50. They each have a still older style handset. The 34 is just a bit boxier than the 40, has only one centered plunger button and both cords exit the back through a centre hole.

The 35 is easily mistaken for a 50. Other than the older handset the only other difference is no vents down each side for the ringer to sound through.

One more thing. The term "Monophone" began with the first AE phone with a handset. ie:transmitter and receiver in one unit instead of like the old wood phones or candlesticks. AE coined the term "Monophone" to indicate the "all in one" handset.

When pushbutton dialing service came in, AE didn't number phones like NE / WE. They didn't have different model #'s because of Touch Call (AE's term as opposed to Touch Tone - WE and NE). They were just called 182TC as opposed to 182 or 182 ROT(ary).

-Terry Biddlecombe



There's a professional phone refurbishing guy in Arizona named Steve Hilsz who has a very good series of pamphlets (one of which features one of my phones!) on wiring several of the older AE phones. He will also restore your malfunctioning hulk if you send him some money.


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