Well it is seems to have finally happened. We have come full circle in life. At least with respect to our telephone number! 🙂

Can you even imagine this anymore.

Many years ago when growing up I remember “barely” that my parent’s phone number was not just digits but started off with letters. These letters were actually the first two letters of a word, a name… such as PE for Pennsylyvania. So when you gave out your number you may have told the person you were talking to…”My number is Pennsylvania 4234

And the best part about it was since our grandparents, or maybe even our parent lived in the same house for 20, 30 or more years… their phone number was always the same. Obviously over the past 30 40 years we have gone from that simple phone number to a 7 digit and then a 10 digit number with mulitple area codes per city to accomodate the huge increase in population across America.  Then to make matters worse we became a very transisent society.  We started to move every 3 to 4 years. Not just across town, but across the state or from one coast to another.  The relocation process in the 70s and 80s meant one very dramatic process… we had to change our phone number.  The then AT&T MaBell if you will had this market position where if you lived in Los Angeles California and you were moving from San Diego or Phoenix, you needed to get a new telephone number.  For many of us this was a bit of a pain since we may have established that number for years, had it printed on stationary, business card, yellow page ads and more.

So Can you still use exchange names?

Yes, although you need to use some common sense. Most people won’t recognize them if they’re spoken, but can probably figure them out if they’re written. Here’s some suggestions:

Shock value — If someone asks for your phone number and you tell them “MUrray 5-3247”, they’re going to look at you strangely and say “Huh?”.

Phone message — “You’ve reached KLondike 5-3247 …”

Retro look — Business cards, advertisements, invitations, web pages, anywhere you might write them.

So how have we come full circle?  Well to start off, our phone numbers are OURS to keep. We can move our cell phone to a land line to a virtual line and back again. Every day we can find ourselves talking to someone down the street that has a number with an out of state prefix.  Why? Because they moved and brought their number with them.  This seems to be a more common place deal today and so even though we still move around a lot, our phone number can be ours for a life time.   I for one have had the same two numbers for over 15 years.  Kind of a weird sense of security! lol

If you would like to take a step back in time… check out MaBell’s 1955 Exchange Name list here.


Wayne Warrington Consumer Advocate, Relationships

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