I was listening to the radio program Science Friday last week, and I noted something I’ve noted before: their phone number is 989-8255. That fact is certainly unremarkable to most people. I remark on it because the phone number I grew up with, in Florida, was 989-8582, which is amusingly close to that, albeit with a different area code.
One notable thing about my childhood phone number was how awful it was back then. In days of pulse-dial telephones, it took forever to call it. You’d dial 9, tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. You’d dial 8, tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. You’d dial 9, tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. You’d dial 8, tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick.
I think you could grow a new finger faster.
Area codes, back in the day of dial phones and mechanical switching, were set up as three-digit numbers with a 0 or 1 in the middle — and phone numbers never had a 0 or 1 as the second digit, so the switching system could distinguish an area code that way. The
best area codes — that is, the ones that were quickest to dial — went to the major metropolitan areas. New York City, 212; Los Angeles, 213; Chicago, 312; and so on. Places that didn’t matter, like Alaska (907) and Hawaii (808), got the crappy codes.
But now, none of it makes any difference. Calling any number is just like calling any other. And, of course, with computerized switching, there’s no longer a need to reserve special digits, so both area codes and phone numbers can have any digit in the second place.
But, man, calling home in the old days. 9, tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. 8, tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. ...
 On which day it was is left as an exercise for the reader.
 Touch Tone, which was once an AT&T trademark for what’s known as DTMF (dual-tone multi-frequency signaling), was introduced in the mid-1960s, but wasn’t widely available until the ’70s. Even as recently as the early 1980s, AT&T charged an extra monthly fee for Touch Tone service.