Telstra Research Laboratories
IST Shutdown (1991)


About the video
TRL Cast
View Part 1.1 of video (s6-1-1.mpg ~99Mb 09:51) - tour of site showing equipment & field work (before cleanup)
View Part 1.2 of video (s6-1-2.mpg ~106Mb 10:33) - tour of site showing equipment & field work (before cleanup)
View Part 1.3 of video (s6-1-3.mpg ~95Mb 08:58) - tour of site showing equipment & field work (before cleanup)

View Part 2.1 of video (s6-2-1.mpg ~48Mb 04:45) - guests arriving before speeches
View Part 2.2 of video (s6-2-2.mpg ~93Mb 09:13) - Harry Wragge intro/speech; Jim Vizard speech; back to Harry
View Part 2.3 of video (s6-2-3.mpg ~133Mb 13:09) - Harry intros Mel Ward (speech)
View Part 2.4 of video (s6-2-4.mpg ~101Mb 10:04) - Mel Ward talks to the "Hong Kong" connection
View Part 2.5 of video (s6-2-5.mpg ~13Mb 01:14) - party breaks up

About the video

A video in 2 main parts (broken up into 8 convenient snippets): IST was a trial to investigate the switching of digitally modulated junction circuits.

1. A tour of the Integrated Switching & Transmission (IST) signal station in St Kilda;

These first parts (1.1,1.2,1.3) personally filmed and passionately narrated by Bob Backway.

It follows a tour of the TRL field trial site in St Kilda, looking around the "Tin Shed", the ghost exchange at St Kilda. Shows equipment and field work taking place (before a cleanup).

2. Closing ceremony footage of the IST shutdown;

This footage was taken at the end of an era, both for the Research Laboratories and for Telecom Australia as a whole. The IST project remains the greatest single undertaking of the Research Laboratories to this day. Started by Harry Wragge, Greg Crew and Fred Symons around 1968 the project commenced field trials at Windsor Exchange in August 1974. The trial involved switching live traffic as part of Windsor Tandem between Clayton (Xbar), South Oakleigh (StepxStep) and Gardenvale (hybrid) exchanges. All traffic was trunked to the IST exchange via the newly available PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) technology and switched in its digital form by time division multiplexing. In the late 70's the IST exchange was shifted to St Kilda Exchange and a Remote Switching Unit (RSU) was added to service Switching and Signalling Branch then located at Winterton Rd Clayton.

The project was wound down by the eighties but for some reason the IST exchange and the RSU were kept running by a small group of dedicated volunteers until 1991. A project as grand as IST could not simply be turned off and dismantled without a celebration. Some of the company's senior staff had cut their teeth on the project. It was decided to hold a closing ceremony at the site on 27 May 1991 and invite all who had ever worked on the project to attend the festivities. A copy of the invitation can be be seen here. Around 100 of a possible 500 or so staff attended and a great time was had by all. A highlight of the event was a new fangled and half working broadband connection to Hong Kong. Via this connection Greg Crew, an ex TRLer then in charge of the Hong Kong Telephone Company, and his visitor Bill Craig of Telecom became remote attendees. Executives from AWA were present to represent their contribution to the project - the first integrated circuits made in Australia. Samples of these ICs were handed to attendees as a memento of the event.

Soon after this event Telecom and OTC merged to become AOTC, Mel Ward was removed as General Managing Director and the company entered an era of Corporatisation and Privatisation.

TRL Cast

Part 1.1 of video

0:00 Bob Backway (narrator)
4:56 Kevin Clarke
5:27 Mick Hunter

Part 1.2 of video

During the TRL occupation of the tin shed at least two bullets entered the building. Fortunately, the shots were fired over a weekend when there were no staff present.

0:00 Bob Backway (narrator)

7:15 Kevin Clarke
7:28 Mick Hunter

Part 1.3 of video

Toward the end there are a few scenes back at the Labs on the 2nd floor of M5.

0:00 Bob Backway (narrator)
5:13 Kevin Clarke
7:19 Mick Hunter
8:21 Greg Sawyers, Howard Fegent

Part 2.1 of video

Part 2.2 of video

Part 2.3 of video

Part 2.4 of video

Part 2.5 of video

Thanks to Bob Backway for loan of video from his personal TRL History collection, his recollections and descriptions above. Thanks also to Rinus Valk for the initial identification of some ex-TRL staff.

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Last updated: 11 October, 2002