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George, that is the most interesting answer i have read in quite some time.When you say area code, do you mean after 01 or the first digits of the second string of numbers?

you had to turn the dial instead of touching the number keys as now with the landline or mobile phones.

Since zero was transmitted as a sequence of 10 pulses, why didn't they use that?

The 999 service was introduced on 30 June 1937 in the London area. 999 was chosen because of the need for the code to be able to be dialled from A/B button public telephones. The telephone dial (GPO Dial No 11) used with these coin-boxes allowed the digit '0' to be dialled without inserting any money, and it was very easy to adapt the dial to dial '9' without inserting money. All other digits from 2 to 8 were in use somewhere in the UK as the initial digits for subscribers' telephone numbers and hence could not easily be used. Had any other digits been used, other digits between that one and the already free '0' would also have been able to be dialled free of charge. No other telephone numbers existed using combinations of the digits '9' and '0' (other than one in Woolwich) therefore there would be no unauthorised 'free' calls. Thus the easy conversion of coin-box dial was the deciding factor and the fact that 999 was not used anywhere, other than for accessing the occasional 'position 9' of an Engineering Test Desk in the telephone exchange. Numbers beginning with 1 were excluded for other technical reasons - for example, 111 could be dialled by accident by wires making contact.

The first two digits of my current area code is 58, and that just happens to match to the letters LU, and the local phone area is Luton (I did not live here in the days when we had names to our phone exchanges, so I am assuming the fact that 58 is LU is not coincidental

Does anyone know why the Americans use 911?

It does not say why zero was already free, but my initial guess was that zero may have been the original number for calling the operator (a tradition that has continued for many PABX systems), where this number has now changed to 100.