Author Topic: Old phone numbers question  (Read 4591 times)

Offline mark9564

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Old phone numbers question
« on: January 15, 2015, 10:55:04 AM »
Can somebody tell me how the old phone numbers worked with a name and then a number after it (plaza7-1262  or Englewood -1480) ? Im sure there was some type of logic behind this , I just cant figure it out.
Thanks

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2015, 11:06:18 AM »
I have moved your question to this area of the forum. Read some of these topics on this board for some insite into old telephone exchange names!

Terry
« Last Edit: January 15, 2015, 11:08:52 AM by AE_Collector »

Offline jsowers

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2015, 11:19:12 AM »
Here's a short history of exchange names on number cards and it's from a site full of them...
 
http://www.telephonearchive.com/numbercards/special/related_info.html
 
Usually the first two letters of the exchange corresponded to numbers on the phone dial or touchpad. So REgent would be 73, PLaza would be 75, etc. That's why the first two letters were usually capitalized. Sometimes an exchange just represented a city or town and sometimes it represented a section of a large city. Often the names were taken from real places and landmarks, like PLaza is from the Plaza Hotel and PEnnsylvania was from the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City.
 
Many phone numbers still in existence had an exchange name originally. It was a way for people to remember their phone numbers. My aunt still thinks of ME3, for MElrose 3, when she calls her sister.
Jonathan

Offline twocvbloke

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2015, 11:45:23 AM »
Here in the UK, it was similar how exchanges were named and numbered, round these parts the area code was COnsett-7, which on a UK dial equated to 207, then they later added the 0 at the beginning, forming 0207, then London decided they wanted that string of numbers so "phONEday" came along in the 90s and added an extra 1 to the numbers, so became 01207 and that there london got their 020-7 the thieving blighters... :)

unbeldi

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2015, 12:21:58 PM »
Can somebody tell me how the old phone numbers worked with a name and then a number after it (plaza7-1262  or Englewood -1480) ? Im sure there was some type of logic behind this , I just cant figure it out.
Thanks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_exchange_names

Offline poplar1

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2015, 12:31:55 PM »
At least the Notes on Nationwide Dialing (1955), the last reference in the above article, clearly states  that these  are "central office names" or "office names," and not "exchange names."

http://www.historyofphonephreaking.org/docs/nond1955.pdf

« Last Edit: January 15, 2015, 12:59:34 PM by poplar1 »
"C'est pas une restauration, c'est une rénovation."--François Martin.

unbeldi

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2015, 12:52:28 PM »
This seems to be an age-old controversy, C.O. names vs. exchange names.
Most official Bell System docs use the term central office names, most prominently everything after WWII, it seems.
Many people seems to insist today these are exchange names, despite that. I don't know who started promulgating one over the other.

What WP concerns, it seems to prefer what can be reached by consensus between opinionated persons and crowd-sourcing with Google, rather than factual documents.

PS: What concerns myself, I don't really have a preference.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2015, 01:59:11 PM by unbeldi »

Offline twocvbloke

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2015, 12:58:33 PM »
Over here in the UK they're referred to as Exchange names/numbers, just another difference in the use of the English language I suppose... :)

Offline andre_janew

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2015, 01:09:14 PM »
The guy who was head of the Central Office in Lawrence, Kansas must've been a Minnesota Vikings fan.  This would explain the VIking exchanges of VI1, VI2, and VI3.  These are considered to be the original exchanges of the city.

Offline rp2813

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2015, 01:57:52 AM »
Per my experience working for Pacific Bell, central offices house exchanges.  Older central offices often share the name of an exchange they serve.  It's understandable that this can create confusion.

Example:  San Jose has several central offices.  One is "SJAX" or San Jose AXminster.  Originally, AXminster was the only exchange contained in that office.  As the population grew, additional exchanges became necessary.  Besides AXminster, CHerry was added.  The CO name was still AXminster, but the exchanges it housed were both AXminster and CHerry,  and both were overlaid within the same CO boundary.  In other words, a home with an AXminster number could be next door to one with a CHerry number.  The telco would mix and match and assign line numbers from either exchange within the CO.  It's no different today.  I have a 295 prefix but next door could have 971, both off of the same switch downtown.

I'm going on instinct about how it worked with mechanical switching, but am pretty sure it was something like, if your number was AXminster 6-1234, you could drop the "AX" digits and just dial the last 5 of the party you wanted if they were also an AXminster number.  However, if you were calling someone served out of the same office but on the CHerry exchange, say, CHerry 3-1234, I think you'd have to dial all 7 characters.  And vice-versa.  They are under the same roof and share the same CO, but they are different exchanges.

Clear as mud?  Experts feel free to correct or modify.

It has been decades since the alpha-numeric numbering system was abandoned, but its relics still exist today within the various telcos across the country. 






Ralph

unbeldi

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2015, 09:12:19 AM »
We discussed this in another topic about my finding of a 202 from Inglewood, CA, with an interesting dial:

http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=13084.msg137656#msg137656

There, I offered several definitions of the terms from a few published reference works, including Engineering and Operations in the Bell System (BTL, 1984), Introduction to Telecommunications Network Engineering (T. Anttalainen, Artech House, 2003), Clayton's Illustrated Telecom Dictionary (McGraw-Hill, 2000).

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2015, 12:40:38 PM »

I'm going on instinct about how it worked with mechanical switching, but am pretty sure it was something like, if your number was AXminster 6-1234, you could drop the "AX" digits and just dial the last 5 of the party you wanted if they were also an AXminster number.  However, if you were calling someone served out of the same office but on the CHerry exchange, say, CHerry 3-1234, I think you'd have to dial all 7 characters.  And vice-versa.  They are under the same roof and share the same CO, but they are different exchanges.

It has been decades since the alpha-numeric numbering system was abandoned, but its relics still exist today within the various telcos across the country. 

I agree with your take on CO's and Exchanges Ralph. As soon as there were more than one CO in town they took on some form of name for easy reference. The name used around here was generally the name of the original Exchange in the building. Or at least the original exchange name once it was converted to automatic as the names usually changed then. Within the telco here, we still regularly refer to the buildings or even areas of Vancouver as Fairfax, Trinity, Regent, Mutual, Cypress, Amherst, Castle, Alpine, Hemlock etc even though no one has dialled a phone number that way here in close to 60 years!

The only thing that I would add to the concept of dropping some digits from phone numbers within a CO would be that it was a way of reducing the amount of equipment required in a Step by Step CO when 7 digits were needed for number uniformity, not because there were so many phone lines that such large numbers were required. Digit absorbing selectors were used with many different configurations possible.

In your example with phone numbers AXminster 6-1234 and CHerry 3-1234 the initial 2 (A or C) could be absorbed in the first selector as long as there wasn't another CO building elsewhere in the local toll free calling area that had an Exchange that began with 2. Anyone in this CO area dialling a 2 was calling a subscriber within this CO so absorb the 2 and wait for the next digit. The next digit is a 9 or a 4 so those levels could cut through to the appropriate 3rd selectors if necessary but if there is only an AXminster 6 and CHerry 3 exchange in the building the 1st selector can absorb the initial 2 and the next 9 or 4 and then when the third digits, either 6 or 3 are dialled those levels can cut through to the 4th selectors.

In this example you may ave been able to pick up the phone and dial 6-1234 or 3-1234 but not necessarily. If there was another CO in the toll free calling area that had exchanges beginning with 3 or 6 there would be no way to get to them if dialling 3 or 6 took you straight to your local 4th selectors. You might have to dial the initial 2 to stay within your CO but could then skip the 2nd digit and go straight to the 3rd digit. I am sure this is why they never advertised this feature! Too many possibilities and changes required to it in the future.

This has not only eliminated the need for 2nd selectors but 3rd selectors as well. Lots of eliminated equipment, building space and expense. One day as the area grows they run out of options and have to add a whole bunch of 2nd or 3rd selectors to expand into another new Exchange in the building. Maybe even an addition onto the building to fit everything in!

Terry
« Last Edit: January 21, 2015, 01:09:11 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline andre_janew

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2015, 01:10:01 PM »
Today, you couldn't dial a 5 digit number and expect the call to go through, even if the first two were the same as your own.  You must dial the entire 7 digit number.

unbeldi

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2015, 01:52:21 PM »
Today, you couldn't dial a 5 digit number and expect the call to go through, even if the first two were the same as your own.  You must dial the entire 7 digit number.
dialing seven digits around here gets you nowhere:   http://www.nanpa.com/enas/npasRequiring10DigitReport.do
« Last Edit: January 21, 2015, 01:54:00 PM by unbeldi »

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Old phone numbers question
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2015, 02:37:28 PM »
dialing seven digits around here gets you nowhere

Same in all of British Columbia now. 10 digit dialling everywhere.

Terry