In the old Andy Griffith Show, when characters tried placing a telephone call, they picked up the receiver and were connected to Sarah, the town of Mayberry’s local operator. She would, in turn, connect the call. Most of the country’s phone system was modernized by 1960 when the show debuted. However, the situation was indicative of how the technology developed. While the system shown in the program seemed odd, even for the rural South, in later interviews, Griffith stated the show had more of a 1930s feel than a1960s vibe.\nThe early days\nIndeed, Sarah likely would have been out of a job after World War II (the Big One, as Archie Bunker called it) when the North American Numbering Plan (NAP) was introduced. Before World War II, going back to the late 1800s, the country’s phone system was a mish-mash of local and regional providers. As more and more people bought telephones, the inefficiencies of the system became apparent, particularly for long-distance dialing. \nThe Bell System took the lead in unifying all the disparate systems into with the development of the NAP. The new plan was rolled out in October 1947 and featured 86 numbering plans or area codes. Ohio was divided into four sections: 216 for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, 412 for Toledo and Northwest Ohio, 614 for Columbus and Southwest Ohio, and 513 for Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio, including Dayton.\nMore numbers, new area codes\nIn the late 1970s, it became apparent that the proliferation of phone numbers would exhaust the supply within many area codes, especially in big cities. In New York City, for example, the 718 area code was added in 1984 to serve Brooklyn and Queens, splitting those boroughs from Manhattan and the Bronx. The latter would later join the 718 area code a few years later.\nThe problem was exacerbated by the introduction of fax machines and cellular phones in the 1980s and 1990s. More area codes across the country were divided in the 1990s.\nNew area code for the Tristate\nThe splitting of area codes came to the Tristate in 1996 with the creation of 937, which split Dayton's phone numbers from Cincinnati and the 513 area code. In 1999, Northern Kentucky, including Lexington and surrounding counties, was separated from Eastern Kentucky’s 606 area code.\nIt was announced recently that an additional area code will be added to Cincinnati: 283. Unlike in Cleveland, where 216 has been maintained for the city proper and a few close suburbs, 283 will be integrated with 513 here. This may be distressing to longtime residents. \nThe OG 513s\nReaders may recall the episode of Seinfeld, in which the character Elaine, who lives in Manhattan, was assigned a 646 area code. She was subsequently rebuffed by a man after she gave him her new number. She then devised a plan to steal a 212 number. Today, according to NBC News, she could simply buy one for around $100.\nSome in our area may have the same reaction as Elaine, seeing that 513 is woven into the fabric of the Queen City. However, Cincy Shirts co-owner Darin Overholser, after thinking on the new area code for a bit, is in favor of the new digits. “It’s going to immediately tell people who is an OG and who is new to the city,” he told News 5 shortly after the implementation of 283 was announced. The new area code is expected to start rolling out in April of 2023.
March 28, 2023
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