TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Remembering Old Zenith Numbers

Re: Remembering Old Zenith Numbers

Jim Burks (
Sat, 01 Apr 2006 14:31:13 GMT

<> wrote in message

> In a message dated 29 Mar 2006 12:36:19 -0800,
> writes:

>> I think it was around 1970 that 800 numbers began to appear. One
>> thing I've realized is that back then a lot of companies still had
>> regional offices -- things weren't as centralized as they are now. So
>> calling an airline in your city would connect you to the airline's
>> office in your city. Later on as computer tie-lines became cheaper
>> and more usable things were centralized as they are today. Companies
>> put their call centers in remote locations where buildings and labor
>> were cheap.

> When 800 numbers first went in, airlines already had massive call
> centers. American Airlines call center was in a suburb of Fort Worth,
> while the huge computers already in existence were underground in
> Tulsa, where they remain to this day. Airlines had published (local)
> numbers in most cities they served, and often in surrounding cities,
> connecting by FX lines to their call centers. If you called the
> listed number for the airline, you reached the call center, not the
> local ticket office. The 800 number just made the call center
> available from everywhere in the country, not just in places where
> they had FXs. (It also was usually cheaper from a hotel.)

I used to keep a Holiday Inn hotel directory from the late '70s or
early '80s. It had a state listing with about 5-7 800 numbers divided
among the various states. This is when 800 number pricing was based on
bands 1-5. 1 was neighboring states and cheapest, 5 covered
nationwide. Holiday at that time had 3-4 call centers around the
country, and was trying to optimize rates by buying 3-5 band 2-3 800

Another company where I worked had dialing codes for Band 2 and Band 5
WATS outgoing. We were told, if dialing a Band 2 location to WAIT for
the line to become available, not to use the Band 5 WATS unless it was
really important.

Gee, how things have changed now with distance independent pricing and
5c calls to the UK.

Jim Burks

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