54th Anniversary of Customer DDD, 10-November-1951 from ENglewood & TEaneck NJ
- Thursday 10-November-2005 will be the 54th anniverary of the beginnings of
customer DDD (Direct Distance Dialing) within the NANP, and more
specifically within the US, when on Saturday 10 November 2005, single party
and two-party customers of the ENglewood-3- and ENglewood-4, and TEaneck-7
exchanges in northeastern NJ were first able to DIAL their own (station-to-
station) Long Distance calls to various metro areas across the urban
northeast and midwest, as well as to the San Francisco / Oakland CA Bay
area as well as the Sacramento CA metro area.
There have been several discussions on this event in Pat Townson's Digest
over the years... I had also been loaned an ORIGINAL copy of the customer
instruction booklet from 1951, by the late Robert J. Keevers (Bell Labs,
1957-83; moving into the "new" Bellcore with 1984, retiring from Bellcore
in 1991; deceased from a heart attack in June 1999). Mr.Keevers was one of
THE EXPERTS in numbering/dialing/switching/routing/etc. in the Bell System
throughout his distinguished career with the "Telephone Company".
I had "transcribed" the text of the Englewood NJ customer Long Distance
instruction booklet when the original copy was loaned to me back in 1996,
and posted the text file to Townson's Digest, and it is in TD-Archives,
Note that ALL of New Jersey would have been in NPA 201 at the time, but
since toll calls within northeastern New Jersey at the time did not require
the use of their "home" 201 NPA code, simply dialing just 2L-5N (not even
a 1+ access prefix), the northeastern NJ customers (even those in Englewood
and Teaneck) didn't even know that their own area code was 201.
Calls from northeastern NJ with the five boroughs of New York City were
customer dialable, and probably had been so for a few years prior to 1951.
But in each direction, the use of a special "access prefix", 11+, was used
prior to dialing the 2L-5N number. It does seem that there was NO attempt
to even try to "protect" c.o.codes between NYC and northeastern NJ, that
c.o.codes/names/letters/whatever were "duplicated" in each area without
regard to the opposite area. But the use of the '11+' prefix took care of
identifying that the customer was dialing a number in the opposite region.
These calls were handled directly by New York (Bell) Telephone Company and
New Jersey Bell Telephone Company on direct trunks between their "own"
tandems, and did NOT have to "climb the ladder" up to parent company AT&T
Long Lines' toll switches higher up the network hierarchy. While this is
an inter-LATA call today, there were even special provisions adopted at the
time of divestiture in 1984 for NJBell and NYTel (now all part of VeriZon)
to handle these NY/NJ "corridor" calls with special dialaround codes,
now 101-0652+ (10-10-NJB) for northeastern NJ customers to dial NYCity via
(now) VZ, and 101-0698+ (10-10-NYT) for NYCity customers to dial the
northeastern NJ area via (now) VZ. Anyhow, when 11+ was used in both
directions in the (early) 1950s era, the 1951 Englewood instruction booklet
did NOT indicate 212 for New York City, and New York City customers at the
time did NOT even know that NJ was 201!
Well, Bell didn't specify it in public brochures, but the existance of
Area Codes (formalized in an AT&T memo from Harold L. Ryan, dated Wednesday
22-October-1947) was not really an "internal telco secret". Bell's publicly
available journals had articles on area codes and Operator Toll Dialing
throughout the 1940s and 50s era, and they provided information to other
technical publications on OTD/DDD and area codes including maps of ALL
area codes assigned -- such journals as Popular Science, Popular Mechanics,
Popular Electronics, etc. had such articles at times throughout the 1950s
with full US/Canada area code maps.
The various other parts of the NYCity suburbs as well as the metro areas of
other cities throughout the US were dialed as JUST (straight) ten-digits,
or actually the 3-digit NPA (area) Code followed by 2L-5N. At the time
Englewood was not using a 1+ access prefix or "toll indication" prefix.
Note that all areas reached from Englewood in 1951 were already on a 2L-5N
(seven dial pulls) basis. And with the exception of Sacramento CA (which
was locally a "Step-by-Step" city), all areas which could be directly
dialed by Englewood NJ customers in 1951 used Panel and #1XB (and even some
#5XB) WECO switching equipment.
With a few exceptions, the area codes in use today were used by Englewood
NJ customers to dial to the metro areas throughout the US. Note that only
the basic metro area was dialable, not (yet) the entire area code region
served by that NPA code. There have been recent subsequent NPA splits
and/or overlays within these metro areas, but the original NPA code is
still in use (even if overlaid) in the "core" part of the metro area.
The Nassau County area of Long Island was dialed from Englewood NJ as of
November 1951, as 516+2L-5N, 516 is still their area code. Suffolk County
on Long Island was also part of the 516 NPA code in 1951, but it was
apparantly not yet customer dialable. In 1999/2000, Suffolk County on
Long Island split off to the new 631 NPA code.
The Westchester County and Rockland County area north of the five boroughs
of New York City (and also portions of Orange County and Putnam County)
were also dialable from Englewood NJ as of November 1951, as 914+2L-5N.
The "Poughkeepsie NY homing region" north of that (now the Poughkeepsie NY
LATA region) was also part of the 914 NPA code in 1951, but it was
apparantly not yet customer dialable. During 2000, everything in NPA 914
outside fo Westchester County (both the Rockland/Orange/Putnam Counties
and Poughkeepsie NY LATA areas) split off to the new 845 NPA code.
I don't know if the Nassau (516) and Westchester/etc. (914) suburbs of
NYCity first became customer dialable from Englewood NJ with November 1951,
or if they had been dialable from Englewood NJ for a short period prior.
I know that New York City and both Westchester and Nassau did major network
and numbering/code changes in the late 1940s/early 1950s era for customer
"metropolitan" dialing, and this also included expanded dialing with larger
parts of northeastern NJ.
Other metro areas throughout the Northeast and Midwest that were customer
dialable from Englewood NJ as of November 1951 include:
617 Boston MA Metro
401 Providence RI Metro
215 Philadelphia PA Metro
412 Pittsburgh PA Metro
216 Cleveland OH Metro
313 Detroit MI Metro
312 Chicago IL Metro
414 Milwaukee WI Metro
On the west coast, Sacramento CA (916) was also customer dialable, it seems
that only the city of Sacramento ratecenter/exchange area was customer
dialable, not any suburban exchange areas. Also, Sacramento CA was NOT a
"Panel/Crossbar" city, but rather a "Step-by-Step" city at the time,
although it was on a seven-digit (2L-5N) basis for local numbering/dialing.
Also on the west coast (and a Panel/Crossbar area) that was customer
dialable from Englewood NJ in 1951, and since this made the new service a
"nationwide" or "coast-to-coast" service and thus had some publicity
campaigns with the mayor of Englewood NJ making innauguratory calls to
various mayors of communities on the west coast... is the San Francisco/
Oakland Bay area.
At the time, the entire Bay area was really part of the 415 area code.
There were NO central office code/name/letter/numbering/dialing conflicts
between the San Francisco (west bay) and Oakland (east bay) areas. The Bay
area had expanded from 2L-4N to 2L-5N in the late 1940s, and there was
basic local or "multi-measured-rate" dialing between both sides of the Bay
area without the need for any special access codes, for some times.
In 1951, the Oakland/East Bay area was dialed by Englewood customers (and
Operators throughout the NANP who had originating Operator Toll Dialing
capability) as 415+2L-5N. BUT... the San Francisco/West Bay area (including
areas north of the Golden Gate) were dialed by Englewood NJ customers as
318+2L-5N. However, Operators in the NANP who had OTD capability dialed
San Francisco/West Bay/North of Golden Gate as 415+.
I have not seen any official/formal documentation as to WHY 318 was used
instead of 415 for the west bay area, but I can only assume that it was
because the local #5XB local central office equipment at Englewood and
Teaneck NJ were not able to fully six-digit translate the entire 415-NNX
code. Even the #4 toll crossbar switches at the time didn't yet have
the boxes of punched metal translation cards (optically read) -- the
card-translator boxes didn't come about until 1953. The Card Translator
was more efficient for full six-digit translation of the entire 415-NNX
code so that the originating-end switches would be able to more discretely
route the call to San Francisco/West Bay terminating-end toll or tandem
switches, vs. Oakland/East Bay terminating-end toll/tandem switches.
I don't know WHEN Bell actually "reclaimed" 318 from use by Englewood and
Teaneck customers when calling the San Francisco (West) Bay area, merging
it back into its "real" 415 area code... I also don't know if there was
any official "end" date to the customer trials of long distance dialing
from Englewood/Teaneck -- it was frequently labelled at the time as a
"trial". I would hope that there was NO "end date", and that customers
continued to be able to dial their own long distance calls "nationwide",
expanding the number of dialable points throughout the 1950s era...
In 1991, Oakland and East Bay split from 415 into 510. And in the mid-to-
late 1990s, both sides of the Bay (415 now for the West Bay, 510 for the
East Bay) had subsequent area code splits!
The 318 area code had to have been "reclaimed" by 1957, because AT&T
assigned it to the split of 504 here in Louisiana (originally the one and
only area code for all of Louisiana, at least for Operator Dialing and
"on paper"), southwestern/central and northern LA split to 318 in 1957.
Southeastern Louisiana retained 504. In more recent times, there have been
further splits of both 504 and 318. In 1999/2000, 318 was split, retained
by Alexandria/Shreveport/Monroe (northern and central LA), with the
southwestern (Lake Charles) and south-central (Lafayette/Opelousas/New
Iberia) areas of Louisiana splitting off to the new 337 area code.
As for the "publicly identified" use from Englewood NJ in 1951 for 318 to
dial San Francisco/West Bay vs. 415 to dial Oakland/East Bay, I do wonder
if a customer actually "flip-flopped" the published code-mappings, and
tried dialing 415 for San Francisco/West Bay (415 being its REAL code),
if the call would complete. Afterall, Operators were dialing 415 anyway,
and "official" Bell Telco US/Canada area code maps in their own magazines
on articles on Area Codes and nationwide toll routing/switching/etc. (i.e.
articles appearing at the time in Bell Telephone Magazine, Bell System
Technical Journal, Bell Laboratories Record Magazine, etc) never did show
318 for San Francisco/West Bay, but rather 415 for ALL of central CA along
the coast! Similarly, I wonder if a customer in Englewood/Teaneck NJ at the
time in 1951, dialed 318+2L-5N for an Exchange that was actually in the
Oakland/East Bay area, if the call would complete? It would seem that 318
would route the call to the San Francisco terminating end tandem/toll
switch, and the dialed 2L+1d office code would have been in the "local"
calling area of San Francisco -- with no code/numbering/dialing conflict --
and MAYBE the call would then route "back" across the Bay (eastward) to
complete to that number?
Anyhow, on Thursday 10-November-2005, it will be 54 years since there the
beginnings of coast-to-coast customer-dialed long-distance dialing within
the US. And the above referenced link at Townson's Telecom-Digest Archives
is a transcription of the original customer instruction booklet.... and
there have been numerous postings to Townson's Digest over the years on
Englewood in 1951, even some postings on the topic just last month, during
late October 2005.
Mark J. Cuccia
markjcuccia at yahoo dot com
Currently living in Lafayette LA
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