Saturday, February 9, 2013

John E. Karlin (1918–2013)

The New York Times reports that John E. Karlin, whose work helped to bring about all-digit dialing, has died:

By the postwar period, telephone exchanges that spelled pronounceable words were starting to be exhausted. All-digit dialing would create a cache of new phone numbers, but whether users could memorize the seven digits it entailed was an open question.

Mr. Karlin’s experimental research, reported in the popular press, showed that they could. As a result, PEnnsylvania and BUtterfield — the stuff of song and story — began to slip away. By the 1960s, those exchanges, along with DRexel, FLeetwood, SWinburne and scores of others just as evocative, had all but disappeared.
Here at Orange Crate Art, telephone exchange names are a minor but, it appears, permanent preoccupation. Thus this post.

Related reading
All telephone posts (Pinboard)
The Anti-Digit Dialing League
Phones Are For People (1962 pamphlet mainfesto from the Anti-Digit Dialing League, disputing the looming number shortage)

comments: 1

Elaine said...

SUnset 2-4609

That was our Ft Smith, Ark., number from August,1954, to mid-1958.
I don't remember any of the all-digit numbers (oh, I suppose if you tickled the right spot in my brain, you could retrieve it, but I have just been trying to come up with even a more-recent one, and I can't.)