THUNDER BAY – TECH – For most people today, the idea that “Long-Distance” telephone calls we expensive is a foreign concept. Today flat rate phone service and low-cost long-distance calling is the normal process. However it was not all that long ago when making a long-distance telephone call was quite expensive.
“Calling Long-Distance” was less than 25 years ago costly. The first three minutes were at one price, and then the cost per minute added up in a hurry. Making overseas calls, was even more expensive, and often required an operator to complete the call.
A key part of daily telecommunications is 65 years old this month, as direct-dial telephone area codes for transcontinental calling were introduced in 1951. The mayor of Englewood, New Jersey, made the first official call, picking up the phone and directly calling his counterpart in Alameda, California. At the time, all previous long distance calls went through an operator.
To begin with, there were 86 exchanges, but the vast expansion in cell phone usage means the U.S. is fast running out of 10-digit phone numbers. American residential customers on average pay $350 annually for their home telephone service and over $960 for cell phones.