Saturday, January 17, 2009

This Month in Rochester History

During the month of January, we mark a couple of telephone milestones in Rochester history. Seventy-one years ago, on January 14, 1938, dial telephone service was introduced in Rochester. Callers no longer picked up the receiver and asked a switchboard operator to connect them to another party - they dialed the number themselves. Phone numbers might be only two to four digits, since the number of subscribers was still small. Things became more complicated on January 8, 1950, when telephone exchanges were established to organize subscribers into calling areas. In Rochester, the OLive (or 65) exchange was created, and callers had to go to the trouble of dialing all seven digits of the telephone number. Exchanges had names such as OLive, HOward, and so forth, because telephone company officials thought pronounceable names would be easier for people to remember than the numbers themselves. This system reduced the available number combinations, however, and growth of the telephone system demanded that it be phased out by the end of the 1960s.

So here's a quiz for those readers who are old enough to remember the OLive exchange. Which business had the phone number OL1-9411 (and still does today!)? If you need a hint, visit the company web site here.

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