Author Topic: Just to introduce myself.  (Read 2792 times)

HobieSport

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Re: Just to introduce myself.
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2009, 05:07:47 AM »
Thank you much for the British telephone link, Stephen.  Very informative!

http://www.telephonesuk.co.uk/

Here are pictures of the GPO 312L, 332L and 706L  telephones from that site for us Yanks to compare to the WE 302s and 500s.

For folks on the forum, the "L" suffixes simply meant that the dials had letters as well as numbers.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2009, 09:19:42 PM by HobieSport »

Offline BDM

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Re: Just to introduce myself.
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2009, 08:15:47 AM »
Very interesting.

--Brian--

St Clair Shores, MI

Offline Ellen

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Re: Just to introduce myself.
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2009, 10:40:21 AM »
I lived in London in the mid-70's for a year, and the 'phone numbers were like ours - seven digits with a dash after the first three.  But out in the country, where I knew no-one, the numbers started with the name of the town, as seen above.  I never knew how one would do that.

I really like those braided cords.

Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Just to introduce myself.
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2009, 04:16:35 PM »
I lived in London in the mid-70's for a year, and the 'phone numbers were like ours - seven digits with a dash after the first three.  But out in the country, where I knew no-one, the numbers started with the name of the town, as seen above.  I never knew how one would do that.

I really like those braided cords.

Strictly speaking, the London numbers had nine digits at that time, but the first two, 01, were for London, so you didn't need to dial those if you were calling from within the 01 area.  Most other cities had codes with more than two digits, 021 for Birmingham, 061 for Manchester, 0865 (later 01865) for Oxford for example.  The letters had been officially dropped before the '70s, but some people continued to use them, and you may have seen old signs etc.  There's still one today outside a barber's shop which I pass on my way to work.

Let's consider a London example; it's a long story, and there have been several changes.  in the Westminster area there used to be an exchange called Abbey; somebody whose number was Abbey 1234 would show it on signs and letterheads etc. as ABBey 1234 or ABB 1234, which is what you dialled.  If you look at the dial with the letters you will see that both the A and the B are in the 2 position, so when you dialled ABB 1234 you were really dialing 222 1234.  Note that there is no 'Q' on most dials; there was no exchange code in Britain which had a 'Q' in it which is rather surprising, you'd think there would be a Queens, Queensbury, Queensborough, or something similar, but there wasn't.  There was a French code with a 'Q' in it, so french dials did have this letter.

Two things happened at about the same time in the '60s; the first was that STD was introduced.  This had nothing to do with Sexually Transmitted Diseases as it does today, it stood for Subscriber Trunk Dialing i.e. people were able to dial all national calls themselves, without having to have them connected by the operator; I remember how impressed I was when we were first able to dial through to my aunt, who lived about 200 km away!  Today I think nothing of dialing a call to China.  This required the addition of codes such as 01 for the city.  The second change was that the letters were dropped, and all-figure numbers became standard.  So, at this time, ABB 1234 became 01-222 1234, but, as I said before, you didn't need to dial the 01 if you were calling from within London; you could just dial 222 1234.

This was fine until the late '80s, when we started to run out of numbers.  The decision was made to split London into two areas, inner and outer.  The inner became 071, and the outer 081 in about 1990.  01-222 1234 was in inner London, so it became 071-222 1234.  As before, if you were dialing from within the area you could just dial 222 1234, but if you were calling from the outer London area you had to dial the whole thing.  This was sometimes a bit odd; if you were right on the boundary between the two zones you might have to dial the full number to get to somewhere just on the other side of the street, but could just dial the shortened form to get to somewhere miles away.

The next change came just a few years later, when a 1 was inserted, so 171 became 0171, and 081 became 0181.  Therefore our old ABBey number now became 0171-222 1234.

The demand for numbers continued to grow and after a few more years there was the final change so far.  The two parts of London were re-united under one code, 020, but an extra digit, the 7 or 8 from the old code, was added before the 7 digits, so our number then became 020 7222 1234.  Many people incorrectly wrote this as 0207 222 1234 but this is wrong, the code for London is 202, not 0207, and if you want to dial the shortened form from within London it's now 7222 1234, though few people do this now, as they have become used to using the full number, as you have to when you use a mobile.

Strictly speaking, the full number is now +44 (0) 20 7222 1234, though you don't need to dial the country code from within the UK, and when calling from outside you don't usually dial the 0 in the brackets.  I believe the international prefix from the US is 011, so to dial this number from over there you would dial 011 44 20 7222 1234.  If you have a means of making cheap international calls try it.  You'll need a touch-tone phone, but it gives the option for recorded information, or to speak to a human, and it's a very useful number to know if you're visiting London.  It's the Transport for London, Ex. London transport, travel information line.

The braided cords were good, they wore well, were very flexible, and didn't show the dirt, which was probably a good thing, as they would be difficult to clean.  They also faded somewhat after many years; I've got one that I'm going to try to dye.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2009, 06:27:25 PM by Stephen Furley »

Offline McHeath

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Re: Just to introduce myself.
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2009, 07:30:04 PM »
Wow, that's complicated!  We have seen a lot of growth in new area codes here in the US in the last 20 years, but it's pretty much still the same pattern of 589-0964 if you live in the same area code, and 1 (805) 598-0964 if you live in a different area code but are calling from inside the country.  (This was the number I grew up with)  Sometimes you have to dial the 1 first, for semi-long distance, then the number minus the area code, such as 1-589-0964, but we don't have to do that here in my region anymore.  Exchange names went the way of the Dodo before my time and I always just knew the numerical prefix. 

I was reading a story with my 5th graders today and it was set in the 80's, pre cell phone days, and a huge part of the plot revolves around the phone lines getting knocked down in a fire and the main characters inability to find another working phone.  Had to explain how that time period worked, all phones hardwired to a landline, you could only call from certain places like homes and public payphones, it's a mystery era for the kiddos most of whom have cells phones that are better than mine.  Another big part of the plot is the main character losing the piece of paper with the phone number on it she needs to call, which required another explanation of how we used to have to actually remember phone numbers instead of simply program them into our cells and forget them.  God, I sound old! :P

Offline Stephen Furley

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Re: Just to introduce myself.
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2009, 08:48:22 PM »
Sorry, I've just noticed that I made an error in my last post, which I've now corrected; I put an 8 where I should have put a 7 in the current 020 number.

Not all dials had the letters; I've got a Bakelite model 310F; The 310 should be a shared service model according to the N-Diagram for it, which this one isn't, which means that it must have been converted at some time.  However, the 'F' for figures suggests that the dial, which has only numbers, is original.  Models with lettered dials normally had a 'L' suffix.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2009, 06:22:38 PM by Stephen Furley »

Offline Bill Cahill

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Re: Just to introduce myself.
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2009, 07:03:31 PM »
Welcome to our forums.......
Bill Cahill

"My friends used to keep saying I had batts in my belfry. No. I'm just hearing bells....."