11 September 2011

Thank you for calling...

The other day I encountered an intriguing video item from the AT&T Archives on the AT&T Tech Channel called "Now You Can Dial" about the change from operator assisted calling to the adoption of the dial telephone. The change took place around 1954 as a result of the development of the transistor in 1948 which made automatic switching systems possible. I remember the change very well. In those days we still received twice a day mail delivery that was very reliable so the telephone wasn't as important as it is today and was only used sparingly. I remember that we used "exchange names" in front of the phone numbers at that time. I still remember our phone number from when I was a little boy. It was "Capitol 7-3577". When we changed over to the dial phone it became "CA-7-3577". When my grandparents moved out to the newly created suburbs their new number had no letters. It was "299-2865". At the time we thought that was very strange and it took some time to get used to it. One thing that I am curious about. After they switched all the letters in the phone numbers over to letters why did they retain the letters? Do you suppose that the telephone company could foresee that one day we would be texting and using Twitter?

You should be able to view the video below. If not you can go directly to the AT&T page by clicking here.

1 comment:

Barb said...

You know, I never thought about why the letters stayed. It's certainly cause for some rumination, isn't it. I don't remember letters being part of our phone numbers but I do recall party lines and how happy my mom was when the phone company finally did away with those...lol.

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.