Goodbye BUtterfield 8

Posted by Judy on Nov 10th 2021

On November 10, 1951, the first long distance call was made without an operator's assistance. Mayor M. Leslie Downing of Englewood, NJ picked up the telephone and dialed ten digits. Ten seconds later he reached Mayor Frank Osborne in Alameda, CA. The call, using the new system of 3-digit area codes, provided a much quicker way to dial long distance. The rotary dial telephone was a step forward from the old fashioned phone with just an ear and mouthpiece. The most prestigious area codes tended to be those that required the least time to dial – New York's 212 was the fastest.

Telephone exchange names figured in popular songs and film: PEnnsylvania 6-5000 (Glen Miller), BEechwood 4-5789 (The Marvelettes), and BUtterfield 8, the 1935 John O'Hara novel that was adapted into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor (who won an Oscar).