May 1960 Radio-Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Electronics,
published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Three of the most popular topics
for comics back in the day when these appeared in Radio−Electronics magazine
were stereo system fanatics, the battle between television owners and servicemen,
and the notion that electronics product sales people were a bunch of charlatans.
The comic on page 98 is pretty funny, although it might be considered somewhat unacceptable
by today's easily offended population. Seeing the
telephone number with a two-letter prefix (e.g., Rick and Lucy Ricardo's MUrray
Hill5-9975 meant their number was MU5-9975) reminded me of the webpage I found
explaining the system. In 1957, standard dial telephones did not have a number
with "Q" on it (prefix in the comic is "EQ"), but was added to the "7" button on
touch tone phones to facilitate entering names via
DTMF encoding. It mentions that many users opposed the elimination of the
prefixes and going to all numbers, including two organized groups - the
Anti-Digit Dialing League and the
Committee of Ten Million
to Oppose All-Number Calling. Coalitions of concerned citizens
for every conceivable issue has been around for a long time.
"Takes a while to warm up."
"Friends, do you see a double image on your TV Screens? Call
EQ 0-0001 for expert TV repair."
"This must be the place."
Anti-Digit Dialing League
The Anti-Digit Dialing League was a movement that emerged in the United
States in the late 1950s and early 1960s, in response to the growing use of
all-number calling (also known as "digit dialing") for telephone calls. At the
time, most telephone calls were made by dialing a combination of letters and
numbers, which corresponded to the name of the telephone exchange and the number
of the individual phone line. For example, if you wanted to call someone in the
"Broadway" exchange, you would dial "BR" and then the corresponding numbers.
However, with the advent of direct-dial long-distance calling, it became
necessary to use all-number dialing, which was seen by some as an impersonal and
dehumanizing way to communicate. The Anti-Digit Dialing League was formed to
protest against this trend and to advocate for the retention of the traditional
Despite the efforts of the League, all-number dialing eventually became the
standard for telephone calls in the United States and in many other countries
around the world. However, some telephone companies continued to offer
letter-and-number dialing as an option for many years, and some people still use
it today for nostalgic or practical reasons.
Committee of Ten
Million to Oppose All-Number Calling
The Committee of Ten Million to Oppose All-Number Calling was an organization
that was formed in 1960 in the United States in response to the increasing use of
all-number dialing for telephone calls. Like the Anti-Digit Dialing League, the
Committee of Ten Million believed that all-number calling was impersonal and dehumanizing,
and that it threatened to erode the community and social values that were associated
with traditional letter-and-number dialing.
The organization was founded by Reverend John "Jolly John" H. Griffin, an African
American Baptist minister from Louisiana who was also a civil rights activist. Griffin
believed that all-number calling was part of a larger trend of technological dehumanization
and that it disproportionately affected minority communities, who were more likely
to rely on telephone services as a means of communication.
The Committee of Ten Million used a variety of tactics to oppose all-number calling,
including public demonstrations, letter-writing campaigns, and legal action. They
also tried to raise public awareness about the issue by distributing pamphlets,
staging mock funerals for the traditional dialing system, and organizing boycotts
of telephone services.
Despite their efforts, all-number dialing eventually became the standard for
telephone calls in the United States and in many other countries around the world.
However, the Committee of Ten Million is remembered as an important voice in the
history of telecommunications and as an early example of grassroots activism against
Posted March 8, 2023