Automatic Electric Company, est. 1901

Automatic Electric Monophone

Museum Artifact: Monophone 1A – Desktop Rotary Telephone, c. 1930s

Made By: Automatic Electric Company, 1001 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL [West Loop]

Research is underway on this one and a full write-up will be coming soon.

7 thoughts on “Automatic Electric Company, est. 1901

  1. Hello,
    I bought an old rotary Motophone recently and the stamp on the back says produced by Automatic Electric (Canada) 1953 Canada Limited, Ontario. iI have done some research and it looks identical to the phone featured in the Matrix movie. In fact, when I first heard the ring tone I said it sounds like the phone in Matrix. Is this company related to the Chicago company? Thanks for any answer you can provide. Martha

  2. My father worked at Automatic Electric from the late 1950’s until he passed in 1972. He was a tool & die maker and machinist. I will never forget the open house they held for families of employees when they opened their gigantic plant in Northlake. Because employees like my dad had to cover a lot of departments, their toolboxes were housed on big, over-sized tricycles they rode around the plant. I was a kid, so naturallly I was impressed. I also remember the display they had that showed what they were contracted to make for the early space program communications system. Wow! My dad was helping men go to the moon.

  3. I went to Triton Jr College and I transferred to Automatic Electric’s internal auditing department. I took a cut in pay $99.40 per week! My boss said they could have given me another 60 cents.

    One interesting assignment was: I had to accompany a uniformed guard to the garbage dump on Lake Street west of Mannheim Road. I had to observe a pallet of documents being dumped and destroyed. I had to write a report certifying my work.

    The documents were confidential correspondence, pricing information, etc. I could tell that because I had to watch the guard throw the paperwork into to dump where it was picked up by a crane and transferred into the incinerator.

    After a year I went to NIU where I majored in accounting. I passed the CPA exam in 1971.

  4. The Northlake plant was huge. I think 15,000 people worked there.

    If someone needed immediate medical attention a nurse would show up riding a golf cart that could transport a patient on a stretcher. The cart resembled a ambulance.

    The plant was lit by florescent bulbs. If a light dimmed an employee would show up with a special cart that was able to extend automatically to reach the high ceiling.

    The cafeteria served good food at reasonable prices. Occasionally small whole trout was on the menu.

    Employees could buy some. Sylvania products at a discount

  5. I worked at Automatic Electric in 1965 mounting electro-mechanical devices which were used to interact with the dial on a telephone. We mounted the relays on a metal rack, attached an insulator between the rack and relay. We balanced a tiny screw on a screwdriver and shoved it into the back of the rack. We then tested the device by applying on direct current probe to the base and the other probe to the relay. If a bell rang we had to remount the relay. We then gave the device to a skilled, higher paid person, who used special pliers to adjust the spring metal in order to make the electric contacts touch within tolerances.

    We were paid an hourly wage with a bonus for meeting production goals. The pay varied and it was quite good for an entry level job.About $135 to &169 per week.

  6. I have an old sawmill with an Automatic Electric Company badge on it. Has this company ever diversified with sawmills? I can send pictures if you would like.

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