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A tour of AT&T's Network Operations Center (1979) - AT&T Archives

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Published on Nov 19, 2012

See more from the AT&T Archives at http://techchannel.att.com/archives

In 1977, the headquarters of AT&T's long distance branch of the service, AT&T Long Lines, moved from where it had spent decades, at 32 Avenue of the Americas, in New York City. The company's new home was necessary to accommodate equipment and personnel that the NYC location had long outgrown.

The way the network itself had been monitored, too, had changed. Network management started in the 1920s, with locations that would track long-distance traffic called Traffic Control Bureaus. Three hubs in Chicago, Cleveland and New York were used to reroute calls from hub to hub. These locations reflect how the bulk of the network grew at the time, cross-country, then spreading out from nodes. These centers rerouted circuits and switching centers, especially unusual network situations like fires, floods, or, even holidays. Since all long-distance calls were operator-assisted, the channels of communication between switching stations was also verbal.

The next phase of AT&T network management was the Network Control Center, opened in 1962, which is considered by many to be the first "NOC." At this point, a large majority of long-distance calls were automatically switched. So the management was on a machine level, with a command structure. The main NCC was assisted by regional centers in Chicago, White Plains NY, and Rockdale, Georgia.

The final national NOC built by the Bell System was opened in Bedminster, New Jersey in 1977, the NOC profiled in this 1979 film. Since the company had now a network of electronic switching systems, the maintenance and reactions of the center were computer-controlled. The center began to resemble a modern NOC. The film here is a rare look inside the control room of a national system, one which monitored almost all call traffic for the United States, within one room. This film was originally part of an internal employee videomagazine shown to Long Lines employees.

The contemporary GNOC is slightly less analog - Engadget took a tour of the place and made a great video last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBW3Oa...

AT&T Enterprise also has a good tour of today's GNOC - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v48YLQ...

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

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