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History of the Telephone Numbers in the UK
Historically, the telephone has been viewed as an invention associated with Alexander Graham Bell. Born in Scotland, his family moved to Ontario Canada after two of his siblings died from tuberculosis. He later settled in Massachusetts and took a teaching appointment working with deaf children. It was during this time that he became interested in reproduction of sound, electricity and magnetism. From this interest emerged the telephone around 1876.
William Preece, Chief of the British Post Office is regarded as a key player to introduce telephony to Great Britain. In both the US and UK, telephone numbers and director exchanges were established early on in the telephone’s history. A measles epidemic in Massachusetts led to the adoption of phone numbers to replace names, as calls were patched by a telephone operator.
One of several milestones in the telephone’s history, is the first long distance call. This is said to have occurred in 1878, when Bell demonstrated the telephone to Queen Victoria. Moreover, subscriber trunk dialing, also called direct distance dialing, took hold in the 1960s. This led to minimization of telephone operator assistance. Further, some years later phone service in the UK eliminated peak rates charged for subscriber trunk dialing.
Area codes came about in the mid to late 1940s. London, Birmingham and Glasgow are the first few cities to have had area codes added to seven digit numbers. Over time, area codes underwent change, and code assignments were tailored more to specific communities over regions.
In the mid-1960s, all figure numbering replaced letter numbering for telephone usage. Thus, prefix or exchange names were dropped, and directory listings were numerically stated. Today, letter numbering is use for cell phone texting protocol.
An emergency number has existed in the UK for over 70 years. For several years, 9-1-1 has been used. Initially shown as 911, the hyphen was introduced in the recent past to eliminate caller confusion in time of stress. It may appear as 9-11 or 9-1-1.
Caller identification was introduced in the UK in the early 1990s. Either having this displayed on one’s phone, or dialing 1471, became means to identify call number and community. Additionally, the international code was changed from 010 to 00.
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