About Porticus Porticus Home Page References & Links Disclaimer
  Western Electric Products- Model 500 Telephone
Home Page About This Site What's New References and Links Bell System History Life in the Bell System Capsule History of the Bell System Bell Canada Bell Operating Companies Bell Labs AT&T Long Lines AT&T Historical Financials Historical Photos Historical Film & Video Bell Telephone Magazine Articles What Killed Ma Bell "The Day the Bell System Died The Rape of Ma Bell AT&T Divestiture The Decision to Divest Odds & Ends The Eastland Disaster Bell System Employee Stories Bell System Property - (Not) For Sale Bell Logo History Trading Post - Bell System stuff wanted, for sale, for trade, etc. Bell System Advertisements Don Lively's Essay and More Miscellaneous Retirees Info Trademarks and Copyrights Visitors Comments Dew (Distant Early Warning) Line Project "Yellow Pages" Site Map The Western Electric Store Books Bell System Practices (BSP) & Technical Manuals

 Western Electric Model 500


Sewing Machine - Automatic Answering Service
"Mirrophone" wire ribbon recorder/player
Telephones - PicturePhone - Bell Chime


From AT&T's "The Telephone Story" poster.


We Offer Personalized One-On-One Service!

Call Us Today at (651) 787-DIAL (3425)

The Western Electric Store



Click HERE
to enlarge

Click HERE
to enlarge

Click image above to enlarge

Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, who had assisted Bell since the early 1930's had designed the "500" desk set which was the "basic" phone for many decades.

Bell Labs ran a full-page advertisement in "Radio and Television News" in February 1953 about the advantages of the new 500 model. Click HERE to view the ad.

For a listing of various types of the vintage Model 500 series,
visit the "OLD TELEPHONES As Entertainment" web
page called WESTERN ELECTRIC 500-series Types.


Contents of this page:

  • Schematics (only a few have been scanned and made available so far):

503 / 513 series general information

503B schematic
, 503C, 503CM, and 513B

500C/D schematic | 500C/D table


500AB and 500ADM
500L/M and 500MM

500P - The "Mushroom" lamp 500 set - courtesy of Jim Burnham

500R/S and 500SM
500W/Y and 500YM

514B and 514BM
526A/B and 526AM/BM

502A/B and 502BM - Page 1, Page 2, Page 3
510A, B, E, F, and FM
511F, 511H, and 511HM
515B and 515BM

Models 500, 501, 554, and 556

Models 502, 503, 510, 511, and 558 - PDF file of BSP section C38.595.02.

Model 568 - PDF file of BSP section c38.595.06

500 Line & Ringer Connections

  • Check out this photo of a clear 500 set!

  • Do you have a 500 model that doesn't ring?

    • Click HERE and print the schematic document.

    • Other than a defective ringer (extremely rare) there are common reasons old Western Electric phones don't ring.  The two most common reasons are 1.) A previous owner disconnected one or all of the wires from the ringer going to the network inside the phone to prevent the phone company from "seeing" his/her phone on the phone company's line test equipment or 2.) The phone was wired for "party-line" service which will prevent the bell from ringing on today's "individual line" systems.  Let's cover reason #2 first.  If your phone was originally wired for "party line" service many decades ago you will need to do some simple modifications of the wiring inside of the phone to make it ring.  Referring to the schematic you just printed from the link above, you will see vertical shaded bars dividing the schematic into sections representing, among other things, the ringer, the network, the handset, the dial and the line-switch (a.k.a. the hook-switch.)  Note in particular the wiring for the ringer leads, line cord, and line switch.  In the schematic you will see color designations of R, BK, S, S-R, G, and Y.  These refer to wire colors of Red, Black, Slate (gray), Slate with Red stripe, Green and Yellow, respectively.

    • First, make sure there is a gray (or what looks like a color-aged gray!) wire coming from the hook-switch assembly to the network terminal labeled "L2".  Now locate and move the black wire from the bell ringer coil from the "G" terminal on the network to the network terminal called "L1".  Make sure the slate (gray) wire from the ringer goes to network terminal "K". And finally, make sure the slate/red (gray with red stripe) wire goes to network terminal "A". See schematic and photo for more info.

    • Be sure to Insulate the bare end of the yellow wire where it would normally connect to the telephone line plug.

    • Now your phone should ring!  If not, check the wiring of the green and red wires of your telephone line cord to make sure they are going to "L1" and "L2" respectively and double-check the wires from the bell ringer coil to make sure they are hooked up like the schematic you printed out from the link above. By insuring the wiring matches the schematic you will also insure that if someone had disconnected or mis-wired the bell it should ring, thus eliminating the first reason given above for why your phone probably doesn't ring.

    The above ringer rewiring information has worked for everyone that has contacted me about their non-ringing 500 telephone (and other Western Electric models with similar bells and networks) Here are some comments from website visitors that fixed the ringer "problem" of their phones from the above technical advice:


There is nothing like like the sound of an old Bell telephone. Thank you for helping me get the ringer to work.

Best wishes,
Bruce Frankel


Thanks so much for your help! It was actually the "party line" problem.

I reconnected the black wire (a bit tough to tell the colors due to the age) to the "L1" terminal and it works great. Hearing that first ring was truly sublime. Also, thanks for putting those images of the WE dial centers on your web site. They'll really help my phone attain that "retro" look.



Thank you very much, that got the ringer working.  I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out. 

Thanks again.

Ken O'Connor


Contact Us  About Us  Disclaimer  Legal Policy  Privacy Policy

Copyright MCMXCVII - MMXXI Bell System. All rights reserved.

Bell System Memorial