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I'm not sure how many Washingtonians remember, but all the exchanges around here used to be listed by two letters followed by a number. For example, my parent's exchange was 622-xxxx, but it was listed as MAyfair2-xxxx, or MA2-xxxx for short. "The time" and "The weather" were listed as "TI4-xxxx" and "WE6-xxxx," respectively. If you called TI4-2525 (I'm pretty sure it was any 4 numbers), you'd get, "At the tone, the time will be ... 11 AM, and 40 seconds ... beep! At the tone, the time will be ... 11 AM, and 50 seconds ... beep!" I always wanted to do it right before the changeover to/from Daylight Savings Time, but I never did. If you called WE6-1212 (it might have been any 4 numbers), you'd get 'the National Weather Report' for "Washington, DC and vicinity," followed by a lengthy (30-60-second report) of the 1-2 day weather. This was all free-of-charge. As a child, I did both of these regularly, and took it for granted that everyone else in the world did, too. Thank you to AT&T for providing us with these useful services! Does anyone know what year they started? BTW, calling Northern Virginia (or even Potomac) from Silver Spring was a long-distance call, and quite pricey. It somehow "knew" that you were calling long-distance - I'm pretty sure this lasted at least until the end of the 1970s, and you didn't have to dial a "1" before the call. Columbia, MD (eventually, area code 410, was definitely a long-distance call, even-more expensive than a 'local long-distance' call). Any information about all of this will be much-appreciated.
I don't ever recall having seen a Maryland area code in DC (this may be a cell phone that was used during construction, or a number listed on a permit), so I did a little digging as to how area codes came into existence. As part of the "North American Numbering Plan" of 1947 - which included 25 countries and territories - a three-digit area code preceded (are you ready for this?) a three-digit "central office code" and a four-digit "station number." I grew up in a house with the central office code 622, and I remember very well my mom's handwritten telephone directory in which she used two letters and a number - in our neighborhood, 622 was also named "Mayfair 2" and sometimes written as MA2. If all this sounds like shockingly old history, bear in mind that this plan is from 67 years ago, and 67 years before *that* was 1880. Considering that these numbers are still being used, somebody did something right. Has anyone here actually made a station-to-station call? I've never known quite what that was; only that they were *expensive*. From what little I remember, there was, in increasing order of expense, direct, collect, and person-to-person - I wonder if I got on my land line right now and dialed zero, if I could still make a person-to-person call (this is where the operator makes the call, and asks the recipient if a specific person is home; if not, you don't get charged and the operator hangs up on both of you). The breakup of the Bell system (Jan 8, 1982) is something I remember happening, and something I remember being in the news every day and causing lots of chaos, but also something I've never quite understood - I suspect entire dissertations have been written on mere subsets of the subject. What is now Verizon Communications used to be, in some form or another, Bell Atlantic.