In the beginning there was 405

In 1947, when the system of area codes was established, Oklahoma got one for the entire state: 405. (Florida had one; California had three.)

This proved to be not enough, and 918 was carved out of the northeast part of the state in 1953. A third code, 580, appeared in 1997, comprising areas in 405 beyond the Oklahoma City metro.

Come 2011, there will be a new number in the northeast, which may be 539, 572, 578, or something else entirely. There are two ways to handle these changes today: a split, in which part of the existing area is given the new number and the remainder of the area retains the old one, as 580 was split from 405. There’s also the possibility of an overlay, in which two (or more) codes exist in the same area: nobody has to change numbers, but everyone has to dial 10 digits instead of seven.

Before you ask: 666 is not available at this time.


  1. McGehee »

    6 February 2009 · 4:53 pm

    I suppose if I didn’t live in an overlay area I’d be able to dial locally using only seven-digit dialing on my cell and VoIP accounts, but I think ten-digit dialing is going to be universal within 20 to 25 years. And with more and more telephone options offering unlimited long distance eventually the geographic meaning of the area code and prefix on each person’s phone number(s) will eventually fade away.

    Frankly, at the rate we’re going, I’d expect eleven-digit phone numbers within my lifetime, issued by the Social Security Administration.

  2. CGHill »

    6 February 2009 · 5:28 pm

    Assuming the SSA lasts that long.

    And longer numbers are already being contemplated.

  3. Michael Stockwell »

    7 February 2009 · 4:04 pm

    This is all due to the plethora of cells. Whereas before one may have two phone numbers in a household (and in some rare cases more) now every family member has a cell with it’s own unique number.

    Oh and in 2004 when U.S. Cellular re-entered this market we were told that 10 digit dialing was going to be required so they had already instituted it. So far I think they are the only one to do so!

  4. CGHill »

    7 February 2009 · 5:43 pm

    All the phonebook entries on my cell phone are in 10-digit format; I figured I might as well get used to it.

  5. Ted »

    7 February 2009 · 5:56 pm

    We’ve had 10-digit dialing in the DC Metro area for years now, and it really isn’t that big a hassle once you get used to it.

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