Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Them Old Phone Numbers


In the early days of phone service, you'd call the operator and ask to be patched through to a particular line. This system was first questioned in 1879 by Alexander Graham Bell's friend, Dr. Moses Greeley Parker of Lowell, MA. The town was suffering from an epidemic of measles and the doctor quite sensibly suggested that if the town's phone operators fell ill, replacement operators would struggle to run the system. Numbers instead of names was seen as a better solution which, as you all know, is the system we still use today.


My grandparents phone number when they lived on their farm was 4375 N 2 long n a short crank, R pick up ear piece and crank handle on the side for operator Ruth & Fred Kubberness lived in Arlington, SD


The Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell is credited with speaking the first words by telephone on March 10, 1876: “Mr. Watson —Come here—I want to see you”. To call his assistant sitting next door, Bell didn't have to dial a number: there were only two phone sets in the world at that time.

Americans who were to encounter the problem of 7-digit numbers sooner that any other nation, found a mnemonic solution to the problem (it was generally believed back then that 7-digit numbers were hard to memorize): the first three digits were replaced with letters some word started with. For technical reasons no telephone number in the US started with 1. For historical reasons zero was always used to call the operator. As a result, any American telephone number could start with any figure but 1 and 0.




Mnemonic rules were in use in London and Paris until mid-1960s. At first Americans adopted the LLL-NNNN format (three letters, four numerals). After becoming aware that it was running out of words beginning with the needed three letters, New York introduced the LLN-NNNN format in 1930 with all the other cities following suit in 1947–48.

The phone and how it was hooked up.



 Automatic dialing was possible with a rotary dial telephone set. Prior telephone models were directly connected to the operator or had a magneto (a rotating handle on the right hand side spinning which you also connected to the telephone girl). Telephones with a rotary dial were a rarity. They were only installed in high-ranking officials’ offices (200 lines in the Kremlin and 20 lines in the Russian Council of People’s Economy). This sort of a telephone set was called “vertushka” (“whizzer”). These days this word is remaining in the Russian language to denote a direct government phone in a kingpin’s office, although modern “whizzers” have either a push-button dial or none at all.





My mom's number growing up was 5710 J when they lived in Sioux Falls, SD and they had to share a line with their neighbor's down the street.

 Originally you would just lift the earpiece and flash the “hook” a few times to gain access to an operator.  You would place a call by request, example: “Sarah can you connect me to Bill Miller on Pinebrook Road”.  The first “phone numbers” were actually a mnemonic system that mixed words with numbers, e.g. TREmont 3106.  Dashes and brackets were not generally encouraged at that time.


 Starting in the 1940s, area codes were first used by long-distance operators to establish long-distance calls between toll offices. The first customer-dialed direct call using area codes was made on November 10, 1951, from Englewood, New Jersey, to Alameda, California.

There were many different kinds of phones and it depended on your income and your location.


The Bell System was the system of companies, led by the Bell Telephone Company and subsequently by AT&T, which provided telephone services to much of the United States and Canada from 1877 to 1984, at various times as a monopoly. On December 31, 1983, the system was broken up into independent companies by a U.S. Justice Department mandate.
The colloquial term Ma Bell (as in "Mother Bell") was often used by the general public in the United States to refer to any aspect of this conglomerate, as it held a near complete monopoly over all telephone service in most areas of the country, and is still used by many to refer to any telephone company. Ma Bell is also used to refer to the various female voices behind recordings for the Bell System.



So what does our ancestors phone numbers tell us about them?
I have a coppy of a link above that will help you find out more information about your ancestor's phone number.


When I was a teenager these are the phones we had hanging on the wall in our kitchen Mom made sure that one had an extra long cord on it.

This was a teen line my Dad had added for his work number. He was a truck driver for Consolidated Freight Ways. His number was 701-222-2033
This was our main phone and the number was 701-222-2049


There's lots of history in the telephone.
They have changed greatly over the decades , from practical to frugal and just ridiculous Here's some photos of some.  



I had the white one in my first place as an adult.





This was my first Cell phone.

I really enjoyed researching the phone & number. I learned a lot my ancestors.


My grandmother Dorothy who lived in Stockton, CA had the phone number HO (HOward) 31833

My Uncle Ed & Aunt Dolly's was HO (HOward) 520 & in later years 1405

My Aunt Dot & Uncle Jim's was 209-478-7948 

There's wonderful discoveries in every little corner just have to shine the light to find them

Good luck in your treasure hunting.

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