[rollei_list] Re: old phone numbers

  • From: "Richard Knoppow" <dickburk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 08:09:07 -0800

----- Original Message ----- From: "Ferdi Stutterheim" <fstutterheim@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 7:23 AM
Subject: [rollei_list] Re: old phone numbers

Like "Whitehall 1212" to get the "Yard" in English detective stories.


Op 21-jan-2009, om 17:50 heeft Peter K. het volgende geschreven:

As to what people remember, the max is 5 items based on a Bell Labs study from the 1940s. This is why the old phone numbers read like Elgin 1 -2345. "Elgin 1" was considered one item (or number) followed by 4 others. This of course has changed with tel numbers being all numeric nowadays.

AT&T had a list of preferred exchange names. This was generated by Bell Labs in a study to find words which were not easily confused and suggested the two letter combinations they stood for. It was published in the Bell System Technical Journal, sometime around the late 1940s I think. Not all exchange names were based on this list and local place names or other familiar names were often used, such as Hollywood in Los Angeles or Murry Hill in NYC. When dial centrals were first installed c. mid to late 1920s many areas had six place numbers, i.e., the two-letter prefix and four numerals. In larger cities the seven system was used. This changed when direct distance dialing in introduced about the late 1950s when all Bell System exchanges were made uniform. I believe in England some phone numbers had three-letter prefixes but it must have been difficult to find suitable exchange names. There are two films at http://www.archive.org made to teach people how to use dial telephones. One is a silent made about 1927 and aimed at San Francisco telephone customers, the other is later and aimed at small town subscribers who were getting dial phones for the first time. While dial phones seem extremely simple to us they may have been rather confusing to those to whom they were completely new technology.
Number plee-uz...

Richard Knoppow
Los Angeles, CA, USA
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