“You don’t want to see that” was the initial response to my question: “is there an equipment graveyard at Bell Labs?” I was told there was lots of new equipment and that the rooms in the basement were just full of useless old equipment, which is, of course, exactly what I wanted 😊. But after explaining why an artist might want to dig through 60 years of cutting-edge R&D research castoffs, I was kindly taken down to the basement.
The deep storage turned out to be several rooms (and probably more that I haven’t seen yet) packed with lots of useful stuff (a dozen cabinets chock-full of electronics components, huge spools of ribbon cable) and shelf after shelf of old equipment from labs that had been upgraded. Basically: it was amazing.
Case in point: the Harris Dracon TS1 Test Set above. It was used by telephone repair-persons to test connections while atop a telephone pole. Little phone keypad, soft cork grip, a heavy-duty lanyard hook, and of course the amazing blue plastic case.
Above: also from my dig, an incredibly beautiful, gold-legged Sound Design Technologies chip (no info available on what it does, sadly) and some kind of circuit testing tool, hacked together with a popsicle stick.
Lastly, an incredible shielded beryllium-copper computer fan cover, likely for super-sensitive testing environments.
Next stop will be the formal Bell Labs archives, which I’ve been told contain 10,000+ objects including prototypes of the first transistor, radios and telephones, and, I’m sure, tons more amazing things.