Why do telephones have letters on the numbers?



Helpful to have phone numbers that have a word in them, but which came first?

In: Technology

A lot of old phone numbers, when phones originally started being installed, were on smaller area systems, and started with letters. My hometown, for example, had phone numbers in the 1950s that started with PR (short for ‘prospect’, I think) and that got converted to 77 when they moved to 7-digit numbers. All the original ones from that town start with 77, and later they added more numbers.

[this explains it a little better](https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/61116/why-did-old-phone-numbers-start-letters)

This is another one about [telephone exchange names](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_exchange_names) and the words that were assigned by phone companies to groups of numbers.

When some of them are started with letters already, that’s an easy transfer to other word-based mnemonics.

When I was growing up, the exchange you were on had a name. Ours was Hickory, so anyone in my area dialing a number would stat with an H and an I, then the number. For example, HI3-3799. They were party lines and sometimes you would pick up the phone and someone else was already using it, so you’d have to wait until they were finished.