AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

Mr. Digit explains the change to all-number calling in this 1961 film starring the then-well-known radio and television team, Peg Lynch and Alan Bunce ("Ethel and Albert"). They portray a couple coming home from vacation to find their time-honored telephone number, "Bubbling Brook 3-2468", is being changed to seven numerals. Ethel is, naturally, upset to be losing her identity.

Mr. Digit is featured in the animated portion of the film, as the "numbers man" from the telephone company. He explains the new numbering system to Ethel and shows that "we're running out of numbers under our present numbering system." He discusses some expected communications services of the future and the necessity of all-number calling to make improvements in present services as well as those expected to come. Ethel finds the change isn't as radical as she thought, and "she might like it, at that."

It's hard to imagine running out of our current 10-digit phone numbers, and the world has been in no danger of this, even with cell service multiplying numbers in great quantities. Currently there are approximately 660 area codes available in North America, with over 300 area codes in use now. There are approximately 5.3 billion potential numbers available, based on the 660 area codes.

Produced by UPA Pictures
Directed by Robert Larsen
Animation by Chuck Couch

Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 06/15/2011