Thursday, September 8, 2016

Danvile gets direct dial telephone service (1954)

According to an article in the September 30, 1954 issue of The Republican, Danville was scheduled to get direct-dial telephone service beginning on Friday, November 12 at 8 pm, courtesy of the Indiana Bell Telephone Co. The change meant that all of Danville's 1,800 manual telephones had to be switched over to the new rotary-dialed telephones, a project which cost $135,000.

Before the switch, if you wanted to call someone, you had to lift the receiver on your manual telephone, which engaged the operator. You then had to tell your operator what 3 digit phone number you wanted, or ask them to look up the 3 digit number from a directory. In either case, the operator was the one who actually placed the call.

After the switch, everyone in the Danville telephone exchange would have a phone number that began with SH (referred to as "Sherwood") and 5, followed by four digits. For example, the Weaver Funeral Home had a phone number of SH 5-4411, and when they told it to people they could use the shorthand version, "Sherwood 5 4411". Many Danville phone numbers today start with 745; if you look at those buttons on the telephone, the "S" corresponds to 7, the "H" corresponds to "4", and then the 5.

Before the switch, Indiana Bell held programs for the public showing them how to dial, which included picking up the phone and waiting to hear the dial tone/hum before beginning to dial.

To make a long-distance call, you still had to contact the operator first, EXCEPT if you were making a call to New Winchester or North Salem. Those two exchanges had special 3-digit prefixes you could use to dial the call yourself.

Danville was the first community in the Hendricks County area to get the direct-dialed service.

As a result of the switch, many of the women who had been employed as operators were no longer needed (although under the direct-dialed system, you could still dial "0" if you needed help from an operator, such as when placing a long-distance call).

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