Tracing the History of 800 Numbers

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There can not be two opinions that toll-free 800 numbers has provided immense benefits to all business houses regardless of their size and scale of operations. In fact, these 800 numbers have been particularly advantageous for small and mid-sized companies as they project the image of a large corporation to the prospective customers.

The other major advantage is toll-free 800 numbers help develop better customer rapport as customers make phone calls more frequently knowing they will not be required to pay any charges. This feature has helped many business houses to improve customer relationship, enlarge their customer base, increase their sales turnover and earn additional profits.

Although all business enterprises are taking full advantage of toll 800 numbers, few are bothered to find out the history of toll-free 800 numbers, to understand how 800 numbers started and how it has today become an indispensable component for business communications and a useful marketing tool.

The first 800 numbers were created way back in 1967 by AT&T as a means of reducing the need for a battalion of manual operators and also to lessen their work burden of the number of calls they were required to process on a daily basis.

This service was christened by the AT&T as INWATS (Inward Wide Area Telephone Service). Interestingly, the first customer to officially use this then innovative system was the Sheraton Hotel Chain during 1970.

Though this new product of AT&T's was the perfect solution to a pressing problem at that time, it only had a limited appeal. During its early stages, toll free 800 number calling did not create much sensation and had only a slow and modest growth. Until the year 1984, AT&T was the sole proprietor of 800 numbers and held total sway over the market

Roy P. Weber was responsible for inventing the modern toll free 800 number system, which he called the Data Base Communication Processing Method. This was also rather slow to catch buyer attention and AT&T little realized that in a few decades, the toll free 800 numbers would become a powerful marketing tool for countless business houses.

By the year 1992, nearly two and half decades after its initial implementation, 40% of the calls on AT&T's long distance network became toll free calls.

After AT&T's centralized databases were developed, explosive growth has been triggered for 800 numbers. The new centralized databases offered a single toll free number for business organizations nationwide.

The FCC paved the way for the implementation of a number portability process in 1991 to create more competitors and offering toll free number subscribers the option of switching carriers without losing their original numbers.

From its humble beginning as interstate "INWARD WATS", the popularity of toll-free 800 numbers have reached dizzy heights.

The toll free numbers have today become a much sought-after facility by businesses and an impression has been created that if companies want to conduct business properly, they must have a toll-free number. Companies that do not possess toll-free 800 numbers are usually sidelined by customers.

Toll-free 800 numbers are ubiquitously found nowadays and many owners of 800 numbers agree that it has opened up the possibility for businesses and corporations to use the 800 numbers as a powerful lead generation, marketing, and promotional tool.

Toll-free numbers have come a long way and presently, the most common type of toll free number is the vanity number. The vanity number usually has the name of a business or a catch phrase related to it, like 1800-FLOWERS, or 1800-YELLOWPAGES. These numbers have proved to be an effective way to popularize the company brand image.

Currently, toll free numbers in US numbering plan are sometimes called 1-800 numbers after the original area code which was used to dial phones in North America. The companies started using 800 in 1967, 888 in 1996, 877 in 1998, 866 in 2000 and, in the future, the plan is to use 855, 844, 833, 822, 880 up to 887 and 889.

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