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Direct Dialing

November 9, 2014

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Profile America — Sunday, November 9th. A key part of daily telecommunications is 63 years old this week, as direct-dial telephone area codes for transcontinental calling were introduced in 1951. The mayor of Englewood, New Jersey, made the first official call, picking up the phone and directly called his counterpart in Alameda, California. At the time, all previous long distance calls went through an operator. To begin with, there were 86 exchanges, but the vast expansion in cell phone usage means the U.S. is fast running out of 10-digit phone numbers. American residential customers on average pay $434 annually for their home telephone service and over $700 for cell phones. Despite our familiarity with do-it-yourself calling, there are still some 28,000 telephone operators serving us. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at www.census.gov

Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 7745
First call
Phone bills
Number of operators


Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: October 23, 2014