TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: From our Archives: "Recommended" Exchange Names

From our Archives: "Recommended" Exchange Names

TELECOM Digest Editor (
Sun, 26 Mar 2006 17:09:16 -0500 (EST)

A decade ago, Mark Cuccia sent us this list from 'Notes on Nationwide
Dialing, the 1955 edition.


Date: Sat, 07 Sep 1996 18:21:48 -0700
From: "Mark J. Cuccia" <>
Subject: Recommended "EXchange" Names

The following is a list of *recemmended* names for dialable/quotable
telephone EXchange names. It comes from AT&T/Bell's publication "Notes on
Nationwide Dialing, 1955". This reference book was revised for 1956 as
"Notes on Distance Dialing" and under that title was revised further in
1961, 1968 and 1975; to take on the title "Notes on the Network" in 1980;
further name changes have occurred over the years of this reference book as
it was revised in 1983, 1986, 1990, 1994, and the current 1996 edition.
Bellcore took over publication of this reference book's revisions beginning
with the 1986 edition. I don't have a copy of the 1956 edition, but I would
assume that the recommended EXchange name list is included in there, too.

The original list show the 'full' name *and* the recommended *abbreviation*
for use in the printed telephone directory. I will only list the 'full'
names here.

Many cities with EXchange names had for decades been using names which are
not from this list. They were not necessarily required to change the names,
although some places might have changed the name to 'conform' with the
recommendation. These names were supposed to have been chosen such that
pronouncing the name should easily identify the first two significant
dialable letters of the word, as well as quoting the two letters themselves
wasn't supposed to be confused with *other* 'like-sounding' letters which
were associated with different numbers on the dial.

Direct customer dialing of long-distance nationwide calls was becoming
popular, phased-in, throughout the 1950's and early 1960's. AT&T recommended
these 'generic' EXchange names to the local Bell (and independent) telcos
for areas which had only used local numbers of two, three, four or five
numerical digits which were moving to a standard seven-digit (2L-5N) format
for full incorporation into the North American DDD Telephone Network. These
names were considered 'generic' enough for use 'anywhere' in the US and
Canada, without any local differences in pronunciation or spelling in the
first two letters. However, many areas still continued to use local names
with unique or difficult sounds and/or spelling.

Please note that the 55x, 57x, 95x and 97x ranges are not included. In the
original list, it states "Reserved for Radiotelephone Service". Note that
there are no vowels on the 5, 7, 9 digits on the dial. It was considered
difficult to form words/names easy to pronounce from the letters JKL, PRS,
WXY. However, San Francisco had their KLondike exchange (55x), and in the
later 1950's and early 1960's, fictitious exchange names in radio/TV/print
entertainment and advertisements used KL-5 or KLondike-5. This is really the
origin of the '555' exchange, which has also been used for directory
assistance, and now also the newest version of 'info' lines.

As for "Radiotelephone" service in the 55, 57, 95, 97 (JKL/PRS/WXY) ranges,
I do remember many older mobile phones had ID numbers of the form "KK-xxxx"
or "WJ-xxxx", etc.

By the late 1950's, AT&T decided to abolish 'official' use of EXchange names
and rather go to "All Number Calling". One of the reasons which was given
was that when international customer dialing would eventually become
available, letters might be confusing as many countries had their letters
on different digits, had some different character letters (Germanic and
Scandinavian countries, as well as the Cyrillic alphabet used on Russia's
dials), used different alphabets entirely (China and other Asian countries),
some counries didn't even use letters on their dials at all. ANC has become
an international standard, using 'decimal' digits for all telephone
numbering as well as domestic and international traffic worldwide, although
letters have made a "return" in marketing use. I think that the ITU even has
a current international recommendation for placing letters on the dial, as
marketing functions use them. The traditional North American dial's use of
letters is the standard, including the rarely used (in North America)'Z' and
'Q' letters. Many *OLD* (1930's and 40's) North American dials had the 'Z'
on the '0' (zero), and many North American operator keysets also have had
the letter 'Q' on the '1' (one). I think that the current International
standard uses either the QZ on the '1' or on the '0'; or the 'Q' with PRS on
the '7' and the 'Z' with the WXY on the '9'.

Another reason to change to ANC was because there were little or no names
available from the four earlier mentioned number series. While those series
were reserved for Radiotelephone (as well as *test* functions, such as
ringback, reaching telco official departments, ANAC/ANI readback, etc),
these four series should also be used as "POTS" numbers, as Bell was
concerned about the increased use of numbering and code resources (similar
to today). Automated dial-in paging (beepers) was becomming available in the
late 50's and early 60's. Many PBX's were being automated for full dial-in
from outside with a 'standard' seven-digit number such that every department
or even employee in a company (or every guest room in a hotel or hospital)
would have a distinct 'standard' direct-dial-in telephone number. And even
computer modems and data processing systems with dial-up lines over the
telephone network were coming into use beginning in the late 1950's.

In a 2L-5N situation, the third character of the EXchange was a numerical
digit. It was recommended *NOT* to use the digit '0' (zero) for the third
digit, during the EXchange name days. That didn't mean it was never used,
only that it was *rarely* used. By converting to ANC, it shouldn't matter if
the third digit of a numerical exchange prefix was a '0' (zero).

In North America, the changeover from letters/names to ANC was in a phased
process. Some small to medium size towns which had local numbers of five
digits (or less) were converted to DDD-standard seven-digit numbers with
*NO* EXchange name used, as early as the late 1950's! The conversion of
existing names began around 1960. In cities which had mixed 2L-5N and full
numerical seven-digit numbers usually had new wirecenters/NNX codes
introduced with all-number NNX codes from 1960-on. New Orleans had virtually
converted to ANC (as far as the 'official' telephone directory) by 1966.
Some cities finished their conversions in the early or mid 1970's (Chicago,
New York City), and I think that Philadelphia didn't 'officially' complete
conversion to ANC until 1980 or even later.

Even though we are 'officially' on an ANC basis, there is nothing which
prohibits one from still quoting their telephone number with the old
EXchange names ... just look at my contact info in my 'sig-line'. I give the
old (and valid) EXchange names as well as the corresponding numerical
format, with *full international/domestic* preliminary codes.

This list might help those who would like to use an old-style EXchange name
if their current NN(X) office code never did have an old EXchange name from
the 1950's or earlier.

22x: 23x: 24x: 25x: 26x: 27x:
ACademy ADams CHapel ALpine AMherst BRidge
BAldwin BElmont CHerry BLackburn ANdrew BRoad(way)
CApital BEverly CHestnut CLearbrook COlfax BRown(ing)
CAstle CEdar CHurchill CLearwater COlony CRestview
CEnter CIrcle CLifford COngress CRestwood
CEntral CLinton

28x: 29x: 32x: 33x: 34x: 35x:
ATlantic AXminster DAvenport DEerfield DIamond ELgin
ATlas AXtel DAvis DEwey DIckens ELliot
ATwater CYpress EAst(gate) EDgewater FIeldbrook ELmwood
ATwood FAculty EDgewood FIeldstone FLanders
AVenue FAirfax EDison FIllmore FLeetwood
BUtler FAirview FEderal FIrestone

36x: 37x: 38x: 39x: 42x: 43x:
EMerson DRake DUdley EXbrook GArden GEneral
EMpire DRexel DUnkirk EXeter GArfield GEneva
ENdicott ESsex DUpont EXport HAmilton HEmlock
FOrest FRanklin EVergreen EXpress HArrison HEmpstead
FOxcroft FRontier FUlton HAzel IDlewood

44x: 45x: 46x: 47x: 48x: 49x:
GIbson GLadstone HObart GRanite HUbbard GYpsy
GIlbert GLencourt HOmestead GReenwood HUdson HYacinth
HIckman GLendale HOpkins GReenfield HUnter HYatt
HIckory GLenview HOward GReenleaf HUntley
HIllcrest GLobe INgersoll GRover HUxley
HIlltop GRidley IVanhoe

52x: 53x: 54x: 56x: 58x: 59x:
JAckson JEfferson KImball JOhn JUniper LYceum
LAfayette KEllogg KIngsdale JOrdan JUno LYndhurst
LAkeside KEystone KIngswood LOcust JUstice LYnwood
LAkeview LEhigh LIberty LOgan LUdlow LYric
LAmbert LEnox LIncoln LOwell LUther
LAwrence LInden

62x: 63x: 64x: 65x: 66x: 67x:
MAdison MEdford MIdway OLdfield MOhawk ORange
MAin MElrose MIlton OLive MOntrose ORchard
MArket MErcury MIssion OLiver MOrris ORiole
MAyfair NEptune MItchell OLympia NOrmandy ORleans
NAtional NEwton NIagra OLympic NOrth(field) OSborne

68x: 69x: 72x: 73x: 74x: 75x:
MUrdock MYrtle PAlace PErshing PIlgrim PLateau
MUrray OWen PArk(view) REd(field) PIoneer PLaza
MUseum OXbow PArk(way) REd(wood) RIver(side) PLeasant
MUtual OXford RAndolph REgent RIver(view) PLymouth
OVerbrook RAymond REpublic SHadyside SKyline
OVerland SAratoga SHerwood

76x: 77x: 78x: 79x: 82x: 83x:
POplar PRescott STate PYramid TAlbot TEmple
POrter PResident STerling SWathmore TAlmadge TEnnyson
ROckwell PRospect STillwell SWift TAylor TErminal
ROger(s) SPring STory SWinburne VAlley TErrace
SOuth(field) SPruce SUnset SYcamore VAndyke VErnon

84x: 85x: 86x: 87x: 88x: 89x:
THornwell ULrick TOwnsend TRemont TUcker TWilight
TIlden ULster UNderhill TRiangle TUlip TWinbrook
VIctor(ia) ULysses UNion TRinity TUrner TWinoaks
VIking UNiversity TRojan TUxedo TWining
VInewood VOlunteer UPtown

92x: 93x: 94x: 96x: 98x: 99x:
WAbash WEbster WHitehall WOodland YUkon WYandotte
WAlker WElls WHitney WOodlawn WYndown
WAlnut WEllington WIlliam(s) WOodward WYman
WArwick WEst(more) WIlson WOrth
WAverly YEllowstone WIndsor YOrktown


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