Automatic Electric Step by Step

These are examples of the sounds generated by tone plant equipment by old Automatic Electric Step by Step switching systems.

GTE (now Verizon) phased out the last of their Automatic Electric step by step phone switch equipment in the late 1990s. These recordings were recorded in the summer of 1997, except where noted.

Dial Tone

Dial tone from Deland, Illinois – (217) 664 prefix.

Busy Signal

Busy signal from Phillipsburg, Ohio – (937) 884 prefix.


Reorder (fast busy signal) from Long Point, Illinois – (815) 854 prefix.

Ringback Signal

Ringback signal from Honanunau, Hawaii – (808) 328 prefix.

1000Hz Test Tone

An example of a 1000Hz test tone (sometimes called milliwatt tone) from Kingston, MI – (517) 683 prefix.

Busy Signal #2

This is a busy signal from Bettsville, OH – (419) 986 (April 1998). It starts out as a ring, then goes into a “busy” signal. I assume it may be a test number.

Other Vintage Sounds Pages

Western Electric Crossbar
Private Collector Step by Step
Miscellaneous Vintage Sounds

Main Sounds Index Pages

Vintage Telephone Sounds
Modern Telephone Sounds