1. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    I've got an old telephone made by Philips in the Netherlands I picked up at a local telephone repair shop. It looks like it was made back in the 1960s. Yeah really, as of 2000, there was a guy in business who repaired telephones! I don't think the phone was supposed to be here. I think someone brought it with them to the US from the Netherlands and it was property of the telephone company.

    As you might remember back in the day, even in the United States, the telephone company (AT&T) owned the telephones and even the lines inside your house. I remember you had to pay additional "rent" for each telephone you had. We had two telephones. One in the kitchen and one in my parents bedroom.

    Just like the RIAA, they tried to scare people into thinking they would goto jail or prosecute people if you ran additional cables and phones in your house.

    Anyway getting back to the Philips telephone. Despite the fact this phone was intended for another country, it still works on an American telephone system. Except I don't think the ringer works on it but I can still dial out on it with the rotary dial.

    Someone had removed the old cable and wall connector and installed an American type connector and longer cord. Not the older types with the four pins that resemble a European 220V AC outlet but the modern type that resembles an ethernet connector.

    This DDR phone has five pins. What's the odds or being able to make this phone work on an American telephone system? As you may know, there are four wires that enter the house but you only use two of them. The other two are if you want to add a second phone line.


    Justin likes this.
  2. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    I made the guy an offer on the phone and he took it, although I am paying more for DHL shipping than I paid for the actual phone!

    So I did some research on how to wire this thing up to an American phone system and here is what I came up with.

    First of all telephone wiring is very complicated. In the US it can vary from a 4 wire connector (4P4C also know as RJ9) to 25 pin connectors that look like a parallel port on a printer for multiple phone lines (like a business). Then each country has their own type of plug, number of wires and colors. On top of that some countries have adopted the same "RJ" connector as used in the United States for newer phones. But all I really need to be concerned with are four wires.

    Since my HEEMAF type 1955 Philips phone from the Netherlands like this one works:


    I see no reason why an East German phone wouldn't work and from what I read about all phones can be used from one country to another. It's just a matter of matching the wiring up.

    My house is wired for the 4 wire system. Which I think most homes built back in the 1970s were wired for. Newer homes may have more wires for multiple telephones.

    Only two of these wires are used though. The other two as I understand it is for a second phone line or used to power an external speaker. I can't remember which is which but the guy who installed my alarm system used the two unused wires to send feedback from the door sensor at my garage back to the main unit in the house. Since I only have one phone line.

    However at one time the Bell phone system may have used the other two wires for a difference purpose. From my understanding these two wires feed a higher voltage than today which illuminated an incandecent light under the dial or buttons. Now the "Ring and Tip" wires feed a lower voltage which is just enough to power an LED. So the light under the dial on the old Princess phones no longer illuminates.

    Based on this link from Wikipedia:


    Germany uses 5 wires but several different types of 5 pin connectors. It seems that some homes in Eastern Germany still use the old style "row" 5 pin connector because you can buy adapters to plug a phone with an RJ9 connector into an East German 5 row pin phone jack but so far not the other way around. So assuming the phone system used in the DDR was the same as what West Germany was using (designed prior to WWII) then the color of the wires should be the same. Unless the Soviets came in and redesigned the entire telephone system to match their system after the war.

    So based on the above link here is how to wire up an East German phone to work on an American telephone system:

    American German
    black -----> green
    red ------> white
    green ------> brown
    yellow ------> yellow
    XXXX ------> ??????

    From what I read I think the 5th wire was used for a ground wire. But like the Philips phone, this phone has a button which does nothing. Perhaps this was used to call an operator at one time and is obsolete with today's telephone system. Anybody know why older European phones had this push button?

    The downside is the ringer may not work. As mentioned before the Philips telephone I have works, even the rotary dial except it does not ring. This maybe because there is not enough voltage to operate the electro-magnetic in an old phone. Or the electro magnet or capacitor in the phone may just be dead. Who knows.

    I don't know how much of the above information is correct but like I said it's complicated. Once I get my phone and change the connector, I'll report my findings.
  3. phi

    phi Loyal Comrade

    In fact you just need 2 out of the 5 pins. Connect "a" and "b" to the respective wires and pins on the RJ11 plug (the two in the middle. 2 = a, 3 = b).
  4. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    So according to wikipedia (see Pin out diagram on bottom of page for the German TAE jack),


    Exchange line a would be the white wire which I would need to connect to the red wire on my system
    Exchange line b would be the brown wire which would connect to the green wire on my system.

    That seems to match the above schematic.

    One thing that confused me is European system calls these lines "Exchange" where American system is referred to as" tip and ring".

    I posted this on the Fiat Forum to see if anybody had any experience with telephones and one of my Fiat buddies who is originally from Hungary said he tried to connect a Hungarian phone to an American telephone system and something about the rotary dial wouldn't work on numbers 1 and 0 for some reason.

    Here is what he said:

    Csaba wrote:

    I bought a friend an old phone from Hungary about 10 years ago.
    We tried to make it work, but as it turned out the US and Hungarian (all
    European?) phones made a different number of clicks for a certain number dialed.
    One made one more click than the other.
    I would venture to guess that the German phone would be like that too, so you
    could not dial either the 1 or 0.
  5. Thinsid

    Thinsid Loyal Comrade

    RE DDR Telephones!
    Torsten at germandotmilitaria.com has (OR Had recently!) a phone from an East German police station for sale on the site His ref wo 146.
    I fancied it myself but am currently lacking funds! What was interesting was the label stuck to bottom left corner with the extension numbers of other police departments printed on it.
    Does anyone know what the abbreviation "K" would have meant in relation to police units? Also, I know "VP" was Volkspolizei but what was the "VU"?
  6. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    Got my phone working! It even dials out and everything. The ringer is more of a clunk clunk clunk sound .

    All it took was attaching the four above mentioned wires together. There is a lot of static on the phone but I have isolated it to the mouthpiece microphone. All the static goes away when it is removed.

    I might be able to use a speaker from an old AT&T phone or walkman headphone speaker or something. There is an ohms rating on it so that might make it easier to find something to replace it with.

    Oh yeah, found out why I think it took so long to get it.

    He listed my address out of order.

    In the US it's like:

    house number, street
    city/town, state , postal code

    He had it listed as :

    postal code, street (spelled incorrectly), house number
    town , no state

    So it must have taken some human intervention to figure out where the package was supposed to go. Luckily I live in a small town so as lng as the postal code was correct packages will find me.

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