Author Topic: Oldest phone numbers?  (Read 6398 times)

Offline jsowers

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1948
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2012, 10:47:13 AM »
In my small home town refuge in Virginia, there are many people who can remember when you only had to dial four numbers to get your neighbour, because until recent years everybody was on the same exchange and somehow independent.

This would have been relatively recently, too, like the 60's and 70's.

I had no idea.

Everywhere else I can recall living in the USA in the 60's, you had to dial at least 7 numbers.

George, I live just south of you in NC and our little independent telco that covered one medium sized city and a large part of the surrounding county went from dialing five numbers for local calls in the same exchange to all seven digits about 1983 when the switching equipment changed. Our local prefix was 731 (REgent 1) and it slowed down our local calling a little having to dial the first two numbers. I remember one time, before it changed, actually calling the local doctor's office, which was 1-2121, only using the switchhook buttons to dial the number. It worked. I had to call to see if they could give me my allergy shot, so it wasn't a nuisance call.

The nearby city where my dad worked also had 5-number local dialing and I used to love calling the second line at his office, where there were two phones on the desk, and hearing the other phone ring. As long as you were in the same exchange, you only dialed the last five numbers. We all had 7-digit numbers since the 1950s. And long distance was 112 or 110, not 1, because dialing a 1 dialed 731 where I lived.

When the modern switching equipment came in during the early 1980s, it changed to everyone dialing 7 digits and 1 for long distance. And about three years ago they finally eliminated rotary-only service here, though rotary phones still work fine on our lines. Change is sometimes slow at independent telcos, but I can't complain about the service they provided.
Jonathan

Offline Brinybay

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4383
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2012, 12:53:41 AM »
I grew up in Chester, SC. When I was a kid we had a very old coal fire poker that came from Chester Ice & Fuel. As best as I can recall, it said, "Phone #16". Were early, early phone numbers as few as two digits?

Sure wish I had that fire poker now! :-(

I've got an old dairy bottle with 3 digits on it:  http://www.classicrotaryphones.com/forum/index.php?topic=864.msg10413#msg10413
The idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane.
 - Mike Row
e

southernphoneman

  • Guest
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2013, 08:30:35 PM »
I remember back when I was a really little boy back in the 1960s that the numbers had 7 digits, but they always had started with 2 letters normally the first 2 letters of the town that phone number came from. example:(from my 302) ea4-0433 or 324-0433, that means that number would be from east Hampton, it is amazing how times have changed.

Offline deedubya3800

  • ****
  • Posts: 441
  • My 1942 Ivory 302
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2013, 01:19:12 AM »
I remember when I was a kid, and the small town where my grandmother lives didn't have Touch Tone service yet, you could dial any number in town using just five digits, 7 + the last four. She always had a push-button telephone, but it was one of those that could dial out using either pulses or tones. I got a kick out of dialling a number really quickly and listening to it pulse it out in time. Then sometime in the '80s they got Touch Tone service, and we had to dial all seven digits.

Offline Babybearjs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2100
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2013, 05:22:41 PM »
does anyone know what A.G. Bells number was??? wasn't it #1??
John

Offline Aaron W. Gonya

  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2013, 09:10:21 AM »
    Here we were still on four number dialing until around 1990 or so,  (Small, rural independent.)  But the town did not get rotary service until the mid-late 1950's either.

    My mother (now in her early 60's) remembers having to call the switchboard operator for the town exchange. The board was in an upstairs bedroom in the operator's home!

Offline andre_janew

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1461
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2015, 01:20:13 PM »
My grandparents lived in Lone Star, Kansas in the 1940s.  They had the magneto phones.  Whenever they heard two long rings and one short one, they knew they had someone calling them.

Offline Brinybay

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4383
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2015, 07:50:17 PM »
My grandparents lived in Lone Star, Kansas in the 1940s.  They had the magneto phones.  Whenever they heard two long rings and one short one, they knew they had someone calling them.


I remember those party line ring combos when I was a kid in the late 50s, early 60s.
The idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane.
 - Mike Row
e

Offline Sargeguy

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4681
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2015, 11:11:47 PM »
I have an 1886 telephone directory from Providence that features the following schemes:

111
111-1
111-11
111-A
1111
1111-1

At the time Providence was served by a single exchange, the exchanges in surrounding towns seem to use the 1111-1 scheme, with higher numbers.  Not all the letters of the alphabet are used either.  Keep in mind there was no automatic dialing and connections were still made manually.  This appears to be one of the first directories in which numbers were assigned, since the directors of the company apologize that operators will no longer be able to look up parties by name alone.
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409

Offline Sargeguy

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4681
Re: Oldest phone numbers?
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2015, 11:18:44 PM »
A Boston directory from 1893 uses the following schemes:

Town Name 11
Town Name 11-1
Town Name 111
Town Name 111-1
Town Name 1111
Town Name 1111-1
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409