[rollei_list] Re: old phone numbers

  • From: "Peter K." <peterk727@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 08:26:45 -0800

They changed from 6 to 7 digits to accommodate growth. Use of names were
common in various parts of the world but the study I referred to was for
North America. The Direct Distance dialing started in NJ in 1951. But it was
slow to grow as the equipment in the tel offices around the country were
mechanical and had to be upgraded or replaced to accommodate DDD.

Area codes were interesting the way they were assigned. You may know but the
reason LA and NY had 212 and 213 is that the numbers were originally
assigned by population. The middle digit is the most noticeable as 1 was for
populated cities or states, and 0 for less populated like NJ 201 or
Washington DC 202. So when you dialed on a rotary phone (the patent of which
was owned by GT&E and a major reason Bell developed touch tone) it was
shorter to dial the area code for NY which was 212 than say South Dakota 605
or New Mexico 505.

But all this is history and the understanding of which is long gone.

Peter K

On Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 8:09 AM, Richard Knoppow <dickburk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:

> ----- 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.
>> Ferdi.
>> 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
> dickburk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> ---
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Peter K

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