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Ringing the changes on the old landline.

THE debate started about the falling use of landlines, with most people these days opting to use their mobile for everything from reading a book, watching TV on the go, sending messages, checking emails and even making telephone calls.

A smart phone has a lot to recommend it but companies still use landlines and there is a shrinking, but sizeable, portion of the population who prefer a landline.

There are also those who remember when having a phone installed in the home far surpassed getting the latest PS500 iPhone. A home phone was genuinely a luxury item for many years.

Those who were first also had the early numbers. A reader recalled when the family moved to Thongsbridge their number was Holmfirth 4. Who had Holmfirth 1? Hilda Sykes of Almondbury remembers her mother ringing Henry Mitchell of Holmfirth in the mid-1950s on Holmfirth 85.

But why, asks Peter Sykes, did old-fashioned rotary dial phones also have letters as well as numbers? "It's not as if you were going to text anybody: it hadn't been invented."

Numbers were dished out on a first-come, first-served basis but, as phones became more popular, the numbers were expanded to four digits to accommodate more users. Holmfirth 8 would become 2008, for instance. And they all had letters as well as numbers so you could dial other local exchanges. If you wanted to call Mirfield 1234, you would use the prefix MIR before the number. For longer distance calls, you had to go through an operator.

Numbers were stretched again with the introduction of STD - Subscriber Trunk Dialling - which allowed you to dial trunk calls without the assistance of an operator. It took from 1958 to 1979 before the system covered the country.

Now we think nothing of calling the other side of the world on a mobile.

'It's not as if you were going to text anybody: it hadn't been invented." Peter Sykes


Why did the rotary phone have letters as well as numbers?

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 22, 2019
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