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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?
It involved a device (the director) which received dialled digits and automatically translated them to route calls between exchanges in the city; in modern parlance a director incorporated a register-translator and a digit store. Directors were applied to step-by-step switching equipment; crossbar and, later, electronic switches of necessity had such capabilities built into them.Each subscriber was given a seven digit number where the first three digits corresponded to the local exchange name, and were chosen to give the name a meaningful mnemonic. This was done by linking each number on the telephone dial to letters:12 ABC3 DEF4 GHI5 JKL6 MN7 PRS8 TUV9 WXY0 OQThus a subscriber in Wimbledon could be allocated the number WIMbledon 1234; the first three letters, written in capitals, indicated the code to be dialled. The actual trains of pulses from the subscriber's dial would, of course, be 946 1234. As the code (946 in this example) was the same from any telephone in the London director area, this uniformity is an example of a linked numbering scheme. The code was written in bold capitals if the caller should dial all seven digits. If written merely in capitals it indicated that the desired number was on an exchange which had not yet been converted to automatic working, and that the caller should dial only the code digits, and expect to be connected by an operator. As conversion was completed this difference gradually disappeared.
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.