Telecommunications in the Sixties….!

Manually connecting calls with cord pairs at a telephone switchboard…..

Telecommunications in the 1960’s when the Department was known as Posts & Telegraphs (P&T) Department, was very different from telecommunications now, when we are 20 years into the twenty-first century!

When I joined the training centre at Trivandrum, Kerala, India, in January, 1963 for a full year of training as Engineering Supervisor, I had to undergo ten months of training in Telecommunication Theory at Trivandrum and 2 months Practical Training in Telecommunications in Bangalore.

We were in the growing stage in India, technology-wise. We enthusiastically learnt about Morse code, Dubern Sounders, Manual Telephone Exchanges with Central battery (CB) systems, non-multiple exchanges, CB multiple exchanges, 3-channel carrier systems,  the improved  3-channel stackable systems, 8-channel and 12-channel carrier systems, 24 -channel telegraph systems (FM VFT – Frequency Modulated Voice Frequency Telegraphy), CB multiple exchanges with auto-ringing card circuits etc.

Everything was new, novel and made us privileged to know about something new, which for the less fortunate mortals was difficult to even dream about.

We were subjected to rigorous training called “Common course” and “Special course training.” In the first 5 months, two batches of youngsters, about 40 in each batch underwent common course training.

Then we were exposed to “Special course training.” Ours was Batch 3 in Lines and cables and the other – Batch number 4 in “Carrier Technology.”

Batch 4 considered themselves superior in getting trained as Technical Experts, whereas we the Batch 3 members, were to work outdoors and deal with line staff. I suppose they could be considered the equivalent of present day HR managers.

We received a grand (in those days!) stipend of Rs. 80 per month. Our hostel room rent was Rs. 4 per month. We the trainees would form the Managing Committee for the Hostel Mess. Those days, the mess bill used to be around 40 rupees per month leaving us with about     Rs. 35 for our other needs, like purchasing notebooks, writing material, shirts / pants, laundry expenses like getting our clothes ironed, etc.

We even went on picnics to nearby places like Kuttralam, local beaches, temples and sometimes to cinema theatres.

Every 15 days the Mess used to be closed for the night and we would go out and treat ourselves to dosas made with coconut oil, good coffee at Coffee Board Outlets and occasionally sweets and savouries.

There were several subjects being taught with regular and rigorous tests conducted every 2 weeks and monthly exams. We used to sleep on steel cots with springs, over palm leaf mats. There was no dearth of water, but the bathroom doors were always unhinged, necessitating everyone invariably turning out to be bathroom singers!

In the evenings we used to play in the Recreation Rooms, my favourite being table tennis and carrom boards.


Published by Musings of a GO

I am an engineer who worked in almost all branches of the Telecom Department of Government of India. I consider myself to be cool and collected at all times, myself being the operative word .....! I am a homebird and love being with my family. I miss my loving wife of more than five decades ..... she left for her Heavenly abode two years ago.

4 thoughts on “Telecommunications in the Sixties….!

  1. Good ol’ days, eh? Interesting reading about the early days of telephony in India. I’m amazed that you can still remember all the technical stuff you learnt 57 years ago!! 👀


    1. May be this is like seeing your first child& getting overwhelmed,feeling ecstatic,feeling as if it is a personal achivement etc.I am sure you must have gone through these feelings when Sholu was born.

      Liked by 1 person

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