Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Area Codes - for some reason, this is cool

Back in the day, 60 years ago to be more precise, someone came up with the idea of area codes. The phone system was organized by states and provinces, and each state or province was given area codes that were related to their population numbers. Jurisdictions that could be accommodated by just one area code had a zero as the middle digit. Jurisdictions that needed more than one area code had a one as the middle digit. No seven-digit phone numbers had either a one or a zero as the second digit, so it was unambiguous for the exchange equipment to distinguish an area code from a prefix for a local call.

Places with higher population densities got lower numbers in their area codes, based on the notion that people would be dialling those numbers more often, and a lower number would save time using the old rotary dials.

I just think that the system as conceived was a thoughtful solution. A tip of the Halfwise Hat to the creator of the North American Numbering Plan, at Bell Labs. True, with the proliferation of devices there is a forecast that we will need more digits in a decade or two, but this system has served us well and can grow into the future.

No comments: