To operate the pagers used for on-site paging requires a master transmitter. The master transmitter sends out the signal that the pagers are listening to. A good analogy is to consider the master transmitter as a radio station and the pagers as radios tuned into that station.
The actual frequency used by the master transmitter varies between various models and manufacturers. Their coverage area can range from a few hundred feet to several miles, depending on the power of the transmitter. To page a customer, the hostess enters the numeric code for that pager into the master transmitter. The hostess may also select a specific option, such as the code for "table is ready" or the code for "lost pager."
Most master transmitters display the last several pagers contacted. Some systems can handle up to 10,000 individual pagers, much more than any restaurant should ever need! A popular option is to connect the master transmitter into the telephone system of the restaurant. This allows a hostess or other member of the restaurant staff to initiate a page from any phone in the system.
The pagers typically run on rechargeable batteries. A recharging station is used to recharge the pagers easily. For example, the JTECH pagers in the image above have a set of metal contacts on the bottom of each pager. These contacts are connected by screws to metal plates on the pager's circuit board. The metal plates lead to the battery pack. Also, the screws thread into exposed metal balls on top of the pager. These metal balls touch the metal contacts on the bottom of the pager stacked on top of that one. This passes power through to that pager, which then passes it on to the next and so on.