Sixty Years Ago TODAY 10-Nov-1951 Englewood "DDD"
- It was sixty years ago today, on Saturday 10-November-1951, that
Englewood/Teaneck NJ had their nationwide long-distance dialing
"trials". I don't know if there was an "end date" for these customer
trials of long-distance dialing, as I've never come across any such
end date indicated. And AT&T/Bell did intend to expand such customer
long distance dialing as the 1950s progressed.
It wasn't called DDD (Direct Distance Dialing) at the time of the
November 1951 introduction, but simply (customer) nationwide long
It wasn't even truly nationwide, although calls to the San Francisco/
Oakland CA Bay area as well as to Sacramento CA were part of the 1951
customer dialing from Englewood/Teaneck NJ. Most of the communities/
metro areas which could be customer dialed as of November 1951 from
Englewood/Teaneck NJ were in urban areas in the northeast or midwest.
Englewood/Teaneck NJ already did have customer dialing throughout much
of northeastern NJ, as well as with the five boroughs of NYC. I don't
know how much of Nassau County NY and southern Westchester County NY
might have been dialable from northeastern NJ prior to November 1951.
The NYC Metro area did include Nassau County and the _southern_ part
of Westchester County, where the NNX c.o.codes in this area were
"protected" for 7-digit (2L-5N) dialing between the five boroughs of
NYC and Nassau County and southern Westchester County. So, I wonder
if MAYBE Englewood/Teaneck NJ (and other parts of northeastern NJ)
already were able to dial to Nassau and southern Westchester "as part
of" the NYC metro area, as "11" plus 2L-5N ??
The Englewood/Teaneck NJ Nov.1951 dialing instruction booklet states
to use 516+2L-5N to call Nassau County, and 914+2L-5N to call (all of)
Westchester County and all or part of three additional counties in the
Hudson River Valley area.
Calls within the northeastern NJ area were dialed as _just_ 2L-5N.
No mention of NJ being area code 201 was made in the dialing booklet.
The other metro areas (in addition to NYC/Nassau/lower Hudson River
Valley, and northeastern NJ) which could be dialed, along with their
actual area codes (with one exception) included:
617 Boston MA
401 Providence RI
215 Philadelphia PA
412 Pittsburgh PA
216 Cleveland OH
313 Detroit MI
312 Chicago IL
414 Milwaukee WI
916 Sacramento CA
318 San Francisco CA (west bay) and 415 Oakland CA (east bay)
Sacramento CA was the _only_ SXS area (although some of the areas in
the lower Hudson River Valley NY area -- northern Westchester County
and the additional counties which could be dialed also included SXS).
All other areas which could be dialed from Englewood/Teaneck NJ at
this time were Panel/#1XB (and some very new #5XB) communities.
Englewood/Teaneck NJ customers were served from new #5XB.
Only single and 2-party customers were eligible for the customer
long distance dial service.
Note that San Francisco/west bay/north of Golden Gate are listed as
_318_, while Oakland/east bay are listed as 415.
The entire Bay Area was a single 2L-5N calling area, and 415 was the
official area code for all of the Bay Area (until 510 for Oakland/
east bay split form 415 retained by San Francisco/west bay/etc. in
1991). But probably because "up-front realtime" six-digit translation
of an NPA-NNX code was not yet available, and because there were
direct trunks from NY or NJ to both San Francisco (west bay) and
Oakland (east bay) tandem/toll switches, it was probably considered
better for efficient routing to have 318+2L-5N for the west bay points
with 415+2L-5N for the east bay points, at least from customers. I
tend to think that toll operators would still have used 415+2L-5N for
calling all of the Bay area, since they could plug into a direct trunk
to San Francisco vs. a direct trunk to Oakland, and then key/dial
All "official" Bell System maps in articles in Bell's journals of the
era show _only_ 415 for all of the Bay area. However, press releases
and general purpose magazines/newspapers had articles referencing
318 for San Francisco/west bay, and 415 for Oakland/east bay, in
such articles regarding this new customer dialing capability from
Englewood/Teaneck NJ in November 1951.
It would be interesting to know if an Englewood/Teaneck NJ customer
dialed 318 and then 2L-5N for an Oakland/east bay exchange, or if
they dialed 415 and then 2L-5N for a San Francisco/west bay exchange,
if the call would still complete. I assume that it "could", but it
would have probably involved an extra trunk and/or tandem in the
connection which wouldn't have been necessary if the customer had
dialed the "listed" area code.
Several news/press stories and magazine articles including more
detailed technical articles in Popular Science, Popular Electronics,
etc. appeared at the time. The mayor of Englewood NJ dialed calls to
the mayors of several Bay Area communities, and I assume as well to
the mayors of other communities which now could be dialed.
In 1996, I was loaned a copy of the Englewood NJ customer dialing
booklet, which I copied and also did a text transcription of. That
text transcription was also submitted to the "Telecom Digest Archives"
and can be found there at:
The next known customer long distance dialing implementation was in
Fall 1953, two years later, from the Birmingham MI suburb of Detroit.
A few more towns/metro areas were now customer dialable by 1953. I
don't know if this implementation started off with "just" 415 for
"all" of the Bay Area, or if 318 vs.415 was still used.
Note that before a community/metro area could be made customer
dialable, it had to now be on a 2L-5N basis. By the time Birmingham MI
had the service in Fall 1953, some of those additional communities
were now 2L-5N, while when Englewood/Teaneck NJ first started with
customer long-distance dialing in Nov.1951 two years earlier, those
additional communities were still 2L-4N (or mixed 2L-4N with 2L-5N),
not yet (fully) 2L-5N.
In addition to the 1996 posting I made to Telecom Digest/Archives of
the transcription of the 1951 Englewood booklet, I have made several
posts to various Telecom-related groups over the past 15 years, which
can be found in the archives of older posts, for further reference.
Mark J. Cuccia
markjcuccia at yahoo dot com