Telephone Tickets
A box of ICT telephone tickets
Accounting for the calls...

Many millions of telephone tickets would have been produced over the years as this was the way that operator connected calls were brought to account, until automatic recording systems, such as ACRE (circa 1980s) became available.

Photo: A box of ICT telephone tickets (TT223) circa 1970 © Light Straw October 2011.
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Telephone Tickets


Historically, details of charges for trunk calls (connected via the operator) were recorded onto paper tickets.

LT EX131 Reverse
LT EX131 Reverse
Learners' Tickets:

Ticket LT EX131. This version, circa 1946 is printed on stiff card. It is stamped 'Learner's Ticket' on the reverse, so as not to be mistaken for a chargeable ticket.

By comparison, these tickets were slightly larger than the (later) MATS versions.

MATS - Mechanical Accounting for Telephone Service

From 1948, Canterbury Area began using punched-card equipment to process tickets from Trunk Calls. The tickets were now made of stiff card instead of paper. The first regional ticket processing centre opened in Birmingham in October 1958. The Manchester unit opened in July 1959 and Oxford in January 1960.

Telephone Ticket TT210 was used circa 1960. Later examples are shown below...

TT223 TT251  
TT223 - Pre-Decimal TT251
MATS Tickets:

On the left is ticket TT223. This version, circa 1968, used pre-decimal pricing in shillings and pennies. The ticket was printed by I.C.T.

On the right is ticket TT251. This later version, circa 1971, has 'charge band' pricing of LOC (local) A, B, C and IR (Irish republic). The ticket was printed by Dataset Limited.

Tickets were usually marked with a Telephonists' pencil only. Exceptionally, this training example uses an ink pen.

Other versions of tickets TT2xx were produced as operating procedures were revised.

The tickets were manufactured with the bottom-left corner cut off to aid machine sorting.

ISOCC - Input System of Operator Controlled Calls

TT270 30-1322 TT270 30-1392
TT270 early version TT270 larger print version
ISOCC Tickets TT270:

On the left is the early version 30-2322. With greater machine processing, the operator was expected to record both the 'from' and 'to' telephone numbers on the marking fields.

On the right is the larger print version 30-1392 which superseded it, after complaints of eye-strain from the operators.

ISOCC tickets were manufactured with the bottom-left corner cut off to aid machine sorting. Shown here on a black background for clarity.

Compare the Inland ISOCC ticket with that of the International one.

ICT - International Computers and Tabulators

International Computers and Tabulators (ICT) was formed in 1959 by a merger of the British Tabulating Machine Company (BTM) and Powers-Samas.


A paper entitled "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence"" by Derek J.Smith gives some insight into the processing of machine readable tickets.

Don Adams gives a detailed description of machine processing in the Oxford MATS Unit of the early 1960s.

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