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54th Anniversary of Customer DDD, 10-November-1951 from ENglewood & TEaneck NJ

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  • Mark J. Cuccia
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9, 2005
      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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