Facts About Phone Numbers

A Little History & Fun Facts About Phone Numbers

1950 phone

They used to start with letters.

Up until about the 1950s, phone numbers were alphanumeric, eventually settling on a 2-letter, 5-number system that usually identified the region of the phone number and also aimed to make it more memorable.

This system had to be done away with for a few reasons, one of which was due to the confusion that arose from telling someone letters that sounded like other letters, causing people to get the wrong number.

Another reason was simply because you just couldn’t make as many combinations using the letters, as you could by using digits—then they had to add even more digits with the introduction of area codes.

666-6666 phone number

The most expensive phone number.

(866) 666-6666 currently belongs to a limousine service in New York City, and to register this sought-after number must not have been any small feat. Not long ago, the cellphone number 666-6666 (area code unknown) sold for $2.7 million. If there has ever been a phone number that sold for more than $2.7M, then the world is crazier than I imagined.


Emergency codes at home & abroad.

First of all, you might say that we are the 911 generation because 911 emergency service wasn’t standardized in North America until the 1980s (and for another more unfortunate reason).

We’re not the only country that has emergency phone service. Here are just a few of the other codes:

Australia: 000 (112 on cell phone)
Brazil: 911
China: 120
France: 112
India: 102
Ireland: 112
México: 065
Russia: 112
United Kingdom: 112

*See the source at the end of this post for the full list.


How was the telephone invented?

Like many groundbreaking inventions, the telephone was created basically by accident. Alexander Graham Bell was working and experimenting with the telegraph, aiming to improve the existing technology, when he discovered in the process that the human voice, itself, could be sent to another location over a wire.

He of course refocused his efforts to this new phenomenon, and proceeded to change our lives forever.

first phone call

The first phone call.

Whether or not it is true is difficult to verify, but the famous story of the very first phone call credits Alexander Graham Bell as the first person to place a phone call to another person.

Bell didn’t even have to dial anything because—guess what—they were the only two telephone sets on Earth. The first call of all time was from Bell to his assistant in the next building, and his words allegedly were: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.”

boston post

Ridiculous quotes about new technology.

“Well-informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires. Even if it were, it would be of no practical value.”
—Boston Post, 1865

“Never use an electrical device if you can find a mechanical one. Electricity is mighty uncertain stuff to work with.”
—Advice of a noted inventor to Watson, 1872

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
—Ken Olson, Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977


Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.

Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.

StephanieA Little History & Fun Facts About Phone Numbers