What ever happened to the WORDS used in phone numbers?

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wrote:

when 911 became standard, it was often referred to as nine-eleven. some people couldn't figure out how to dial or press eleven, so everyone had to be sure to call it nine-one-one.
Nowadays, there would have to be prefixes such as:
HIjab 4-1234 CHimichanga 7-1234 LGbt 2-6969
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On 06/01/2015 01:59 AM, micky wrote:
[snip]

It used to be that ALL local numbers here started with 657- and you didn't have to specify that. That lasted until about 1990, when they installed a new electronic exchange.

I lived on a farm about 5 miles from town. We could call someone in town by dialing 5 digits. IIRC, to call someone on the same party line, you'd have to dial 14 digits (a 4-digit code to ring the same line, then the full 10 digits). To call long distance, we finally got to dial that too, but the operator would still come on and ask for the number I'm calling from (all 10 digits).

I've done almost that. I missed the clicks, but someone came on before I got to dial (and, IIRC, it was the person I was going to call).
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us/
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In Chicago as a kid my number was HUmboldt 6-2462. My grandmother who lived updtairs was HU6-2542. We lived about a mile from Humboldt Park on the NW side.
--
You know it's time to clean the refrigerator
when something closes the door from the inside.
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There is something to be said for using names as preefixes. I still rememb er my grandparents phone number in Woodside - Queens, NYC, 65 years later. It was HAvemeyer 9-3665. Don't know what area code(s) are in use in that p art of NYC, but it could be fun to call the number and ask to speak with th em<g>.
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Our prefix in Chicago was Dorchester 3. I recall my mother having to drop a nickel or a slug in the phone box at home. Each month a guy would come to collect the money, including real money for the slugs. This would have been in the 40's.
In the 60's I was in charge of making ski group reservations each year at Boyne Mountain, MI. The lodge phone number was 10 and I had to go through the long distance operator to reach it.
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On 06/01/2015 02:45 AM, snipped-for-privacy@spamblocked.com wrote:

Maybe the bastards wanted to charge extra for using a word prefix but the FCC wouldn't let them?
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wrote:

Probably ran out of 2 letter combos that made sense as part of a larger word. "KK" or "WX" would be hard to assign. In addition, 3 letters map into 1 number, adding to the limitation on assignable prefixes like "Butterfield" or "Teasdale". A while back all area codes had a 0 in the second slot and all toll-free numbers began with 800. Not anymore. You also used to be able to connect just dialing the number without any area code - which was assumed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Numbering_Plan#Number_size_expansion
Lays out what happens if we run out of telephone numbers in the XXX-XXX-XXXX format. Before anyone has a canary, there are still places that do things the old way and you can dial a neighbor with only 7 digits.
--
Bobby G.



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On 6/1/2015 7:48 AM, Robert Green wrote:

Up until the 90's, in our town you just dialed the last 5 digits on local calls.
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On 06/01/2015 07:48 AM, Robert Green wrote:

The UK used to have exchange names -- at least in the London area -- of which the first *three* letters were dialed.
In our part of the USA, all numbers within our own area code can now be dialed without the area code, but it was not always that way.
With only 7-digit "subscriber numbers" in a country with the population of the USA, there is no way of assigning area codes logically -- at least without dumping the old 0-or-1-in-the-middle ones, and probably not even then. Australia has 8-digit "subscriber numbers," and the initial digits of area codes (apart from the leading 0 for in-country calls) indicate the State (or group of States), plus one specifically for all cell phones irrespective of location.
With 8-digit "subscriber numbers" the USA could have area codes with the initial digit denoting the region and further digits indicating the State or subset of the region or State. Maybe special area codes within each region for cell phones -- or maybe a set of area codes for cell phones irrespective of location.
Perce
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<stuff snipped>

Right after I pressed SEND I realized a more robust disclaimer was probably necessary. Especially when I started reading in Wikipedia how the switched telephone network grew in fits and starts.
Much more chilling is how the Internet grew and how basically unsafe the underlying transport protocols really are:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2015/05/31/net-of-insecurity-part-2/

That's the first case of regression I've ever heard of. Are you POTS, cell, internet or what?

The people who get to look at someone else's work before designing their own usually get a leg up. (-: I've been on both sides of that equation.

I seem to recall a study that said while a large number of people can remember 7 digit phone numbers, when you jump to 8, that large number diminishes significantly.
The same rules hold true for voicemail menus and even on-screen menus. I believe that voicemail menus begin to be a problem for many people after the 4th menu choice. These are all vague, age-tainted memories of a human factors engineering course I took in the early 90's. I'm too lazy to look them up today. The damn birds started in at 2:30 this morning. I suspect it's a cat on the prowl because they were definitely moving from tree to tree and squawking their little bird lungs out.
--
Bobby G.




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On 06/02/2015 10:06 AM, Robert Green wrote:

616 area code. Our number was originally an AT&T landline number, then ported to Google Voice, which forwards to our "real" number (also 616 but given out only to family members). VOIP using an Obihai box. I don't think we've needed to use the area code from our cell phones either -- also 616, T-Mobile.

But if you have to remember a 3-digit area code as well, you already have to remember a 10-digit number. And if 10-digit numbers are sufficient for the population of the USA (which they are for now, at least), perhaps one could switch to logically/geographically assigned 2-digit area codes and 8-digit "subscriber numbers."
It was interesting to find that although Australian phone numbers within a given area code are xxxx-xxxx, people would speak them as xxx-xxx-xx -- or was it xx-xxx-xxx?
Perce
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That's a checkered past, so to speak!

It's not that clear cut. In my area there are 4 major area codes - 202, 703, 301 and 240. Those don't really count (memory wise) as 3 digits since they're really one choice out of 4 possible codes in this area.
Admittedly in the whole universe of area codes it would be 3 extra digits to remember, but practically those digits map into a prefix that people see as a single token to remember. There was an awful lot of discussion about this when the switch to full area code dialing first began.

A perfect example of tokenizing. They break the number into smaller subgroups that are easier to remember as single tokens. Area codes are like that and to some extent so are exchanges.
Lots of phones in the area are 937 or 881 exchanges so it works the same way. You end up with both the area code and the exchange collapsed into single tokens. I can think of a number of places that have the 937 code which then tends to get thought of as a single token even though it's three digits.
In college my roommates used to pick various words that could be dialed and call up and say: Did you know your number spells DICKWAD (or some other cuss word)? When they dialed the guy whose number turned out to spell A$$HOLE (277-4053) he answered "Only if you use the number zero to mean the letter O!"
--
Bobby G.




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On Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 3:34:31 AM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:

It maps into an easy token only if you recognize the area code and connect it with the token. There are plenty of new area codes, especially for cell phones, so that is dwindling. For example, IDK most of the new cell phone area codes for NYC anymore. And then with VOIP, the ability to port numbers, Google Voice redirecting calls, etc. the association of the number to a geography is also diminishing.
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On Mon, 1 Jun 2015 07:48:50 -0400, "Robert Green"

KLondike.

WYoming.

In Chicago, my exchange one year was BUtterfield 8. I never read the book of the same name however.

Some politicians complained, and maybe forced the Public Service Commission some places to not change or to change back. Conceivably, some places people succeeded driectly without needing a politician.

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On Mon, 01 Jun 2015 01:45:54 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@spamblocked.com wrote:

When we were young, if the middle digit of the first 3 digits was a 0 or a 1, then it was an area code. All area codes had a 0 or 1 as the middle digit and all central office prefixes had a 2 thru 9 as the middle digit. Only 2 thru 9 had letters on the standard dial/keypad. When they started running out of prefixes in big cities, they dropped the use of letters. Much later, they started running out of area codes that met the 0 or 1 rule, so they changed to a computerized system with lists of valid area codes and prefixes. Now, the 0/1 rule is completely gone.
Regarding party lines mentioned by others, they were indeed used to save wires. It cost a lot of money to run a pair of copper wires from a home all the way to the local central office up to five miles away. When phones changes from a luxury item to a necessity, it took time to run all those new wires, too. Someone mentioned listening for your special ring. However, there was an interim step where you shared a line with others, but your phone didn't ring unless the call was for you. That was implemented by putting the signal on just one of the two normally balanced (neither wire grounded) phone wires. One home's bells were connected from "red" to ground while the other home's bells were connected from "green" to ground. The actual call took place on the balanced red/green pair for both parties. Using a twisted pair balanced line avoided hum and interference.
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On 6/1/2015 7:25 AM, Pat wrote:

That's what did it. It was a fairly major revamping of the system to recognize other than the 1 and 0 in area codes and allow those digits in exchanges. And you can't make words using the 1 and 0 keys.
Stop and think for a second at just how amazing the technology is. You can sit at your home or office phone and punch numbers and then talk to a person thousands of miles away in another country. Amazing.
Maybe some day we can do it with hand held phones and no wires. Nah, that'll never happen.
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Yes, it is. Now the big problem is keeping track of what time it is there.
I remember when we'd talk to my grandmother, with my mother one one phone and me and my brother on the other phone. So no one would have to say the same thing twice, at 20 cents a minute for a station-to-station call. And we were doing well to have a second phone. Now I have a dozen phones in the closet and not enough rooms to use them in.

It won't. And if it did, they'd charge 30 cents a minute more in some countries. That just proves it's impossible.
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The shortage of area codes with a middle number of 0 or 1, and all the other things we are discussing all relate to the general number shortage.
Since the invention and wide-spread use of computers, people use far more numbers than they used to.
At the same time, the Arabs, who invented and still are the major producers of Arabic numbers, limit the supply. In order to charge more. As the price of oil has gone down, they are concentrating more on the price of numbers.
The shortage of numbers is the reason that more and more American employers etc. are using Social Security numbers as employee numbers, or as Medicare numbers. It's the reason many states no longer issue new license plates every year, not the cost of the metal but the cost of a new set of numbers.
Every time you scrap a hard drive with millions or billions of numbers on it, you compound the problem. That's why you should take your old harddrives to Best Buy or some place where they will make sure the numbers are recycled.
Never WIPE a harddrive. That is just wasteful.
The US governments has a large Number Reserve in mines in Nevada and old missile silos in North Dakota, but they will not release the numbers unless the shortage gets much worse. So save your numbers. Even the numbers on receipts, like grocery store receipts, can help a poor family get by.
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On Monday, June 1, 2015 at 2:46:20 AM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@spamblocked.com wrote:

I would guess that using words for the exchange part of the number goes back to the days when there was an operator that actually plugged wires together to make the connection. So, there was an operator or operators for Hilltop5 and Hilltop was the local neighborhood it served. As they were replaced by the strowger switch, then by electronic switches, more and more exchanges came into play, using words made less sense. It's what's happening with area codes today. Twenty years ago, area codes were pretty good indicators of where the party was located. If you saw 212, you knew it was Manhattan. Now, with VOIP, cell phones, etc that significance is greatly diminishing.
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http://ourwebhome.com/TENP/Recommended.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_exchange_names
As demand for phone service grew in the post-World War II period, it was foreseeable that it would exceed the addressing capacity of the existing system of using memorable telephone exchange names as prefixes for telephone numbers. Several letter combinations had no pronounceable or memorable names and could not be used. Several North American area codes were split to enable reuse of numbers. However, as the growth accelerated, the Bell System decided to switch to all-number calling (ANC) and to deprecate the use of exchange names. This extended the usable numbering plan and only two area code splits became necessary between 1962 and 1981. All-number calling was phased in slowly starting in 1958. Most areas had adopted it fully by the late 1960s, though it did not become universal until the 1980s. The Bell System published and distributed area code handbooks yearly which compiled the towns available for calling using an area code.
The transition was slow in its implementation, taking the better part of the 1970s and even into the early 1980s to complete. Thus, telephone exchange names were still in use with telephone numbers well after the introduction of area codes.
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