Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's Your Number?

As the population continued to climb and the Baby Boomers kept getting older, the demand for services also grew.  In late June 1973, for the first time, the entire state did not have just one telephone Area Code.  For us here in southwest Virginia, and also stretching up the Shennandoah Valley into Northern VA we got to keep our familiar "703".   However, to call friends and family in Tidewater, or Charlottesville, or many other points central and east we had to learn a new three digit number ... "804".

This was the decision of the good ol' C & P Telephone Company of Virginia (Chesapeake and Potomac).  According to them, there were some 600 different central office codes (that's the first three digits of your phone number after the Area Code) that could be used within one Area Code designation.  They needed more to keep up, therefore it made sense to split the state.

It wasn't a big deal really, but if you had this old black dial phone like I did it just meant three more spins of the dial and hearing more of the tick-tick-tick-tick after releasing your finger.  Oh yeah, and don't forget the "1".

Also in the 1970's, Blacksburg had two exchanges ... "552" and "951" and Virginia Tech added "961" to distinguish them from the town.


  1. So why does 552-1204 stick in my mind. I wonder if that was the number for Campus Inn? I'll have to go find my scrap book and look at our brochure.

    1. I know that # 78-94. I'm 43 now . feels like a friends number

  2. Now that area is 540.
    I felt a bit nostalgic when I acquired a 703 number about 8 years ago. Haven't wanted to change it, even though I don't live in state any longer! Reminds me of a time, long ago... :)

  3. I guess the 703/540 split happened in the 1990s? It was after I moved away in 1993.

    I believe some of the nearby small towns like Newport still had FIVE-digit local dialing as late as the 1980s.

    Right before I left, I started getting wrong-number calls for "55 ALIVE" -- my number, but I guess it was supposed to be 1-800-55-ALIVE or something like that. It was only then that I realized that my phone number, for almost ten years, had been "JLB[my initials]-LIVE".