one ringy-dingy

Toronto’s first dial exchange (1924) making local calls easier

Toronto. Most of us remember Lily Tomlin and her hilarious nasal rendering of an officious telephone operator. Today, few can even remember the time when we had party lines and local calls were connected by an operator. Today’s smart phone set take direct dialling of any ‘phone number for granted.

The photo here, curtesy of our own keen historian, George Dunbar, shows an example of how photography can and does record history. The written word can capture events through any printed media, or nowadays via the internet. Photos say so much more to the observant eye.

When Direct Distance Dialling for long distance calls was introduced in the late 1950s, shortly followed by 7 digit local numbers, a similar mock-up was used to show how to make a long distance call at home via the 7 digit telephone number preceded  by the area code (eg 416) and the digit “1”. (1+area code+exchange code+last four digits making each number unique).

Behind the scenes changes ensured all long distance calls had the same volume regardless of the chain of offices used to connect the caller and called party. Each central office had a coordinator to ensure amplifiers, carrier channels, etc in that office had the correct volume level.


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