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2024 Reader Questions 37

2024 Reader Questions 37 published on 9 Comments on 2024 Reader Questions 37

Hey remember having to use long distance phone cards in order to call people out of the county? Remember not having to dial the first 3 numbers of a phone number if you were calling local? Remember memorizing phone numbers? Man, being alive before affordable high-speed internet was a wild time.


I still memorise some of my numbers (I like maths), and here in Australia the number format is two digits to designate the state or territory (or mobiles have their own two digit start), and eight digits that’s the actual number, and unless you’re calling to a mobile, that two digit initial code is optional, so long as you’re in the same state (according to the phone system – there are some towns on a boarder that’ll be all one state code, despite being in two state/territories).

…also, the state codes all start with a ‘0’ so that the system knows when you’re dialling with a code included.

Here in the U.S., local numbers are seven-digit, with three-digit area codes. Area codes used to all have “0” as the middle digit; when those ran out and they had to drop the middle zero, it caused problems with old teletype machines that could no longer recognize them as valid numbers.

Now there are many area codes with areas at least partly inside other code areas, so it becomes necessary to call ten-digit numbers that aren’t even long-distance. All that fun complicates the question of whether to add the “1” prefix for long distance.

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