Today’s phone comes from my friend Amanda who sent me a picture of her highly abused but still a workhorse M2616 from the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, IL. In the photo, it looks as though there are 2 active lines on this phone and one Intercom extension. There is also tape holding the display cartridge down, due to probably some accident at the front desk. You can get these sets for extreme discount on the dollar on ebay now, so they should just buy a new one!
This phone is a newer Aries II set probably manufactured after 1997. How can I tell? The Meridian M2616 sets made before 1997 had non italicized font on the number dial pad. Starting in 1997, the M2616s dial pad numbers were printed in italics, which I assume was a rolled out for a more modern contemporary look. Also the newer sets have a sans serif font Meridian font with a capital M. FYI, the older Aries I sets were released in 1989 with the older all lower case Meridian font in the speaker area of the phone.
Also, don’t be fooled by the Nortel M5316, the Centrex twin to this phone. How can you tell the difference between the PBX vs. Centrex set? The M5316 comes with a Handsfree button on the top left of the feature keys and a Yellow Mute button on the right side of the feature keys. Also the M2616 has more enriched ring tones and features that work directly off the Meridian One switch, while the M5316 has only one ring tone and limited features due to it being run directly off the SL-100/DMS-100.
The M2616 was quite possibly the most popular phone on the desks of the 1990’s. As much of a workhorse that these phones were, many former Nortel customers are replacing these sets with Cisco IP sets, instead of upgrading to the comparable Nortel 1140E IP sets. With that said, I am sure there are many businesses and universities where you can find these sets still working away like brand new Nortel sets.
While currently these phones only work on a Nortel Meridian One/Succession/Options/CS1000 PBX, they are now supported on the E-MetroTel UCx platform. E-MetroTel is a new grass roots company started by Nortel alumni who believe in keeping the Evergreen tradition alive.
In my opinion, these sets were probably the best looking sets ever designed by Nortel.