WBEZ | telephones http://www.wbez.org/tags/telephones Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Daredevils Without Landlines — And Why Health Experts Are Tracking Them http://www.wbez.org/news/science/daredevils-without-landlines-%E2%80%94-and-why-health-experts-are-tracking-them-114055 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/plain-short-plastic-landline-phone-with-buttons-725x482.jpg" alt="" /><p><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/phone-households-20151203/child.html">&nbsp;</p><script src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/phone-households-20151203/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script><div id="res458329737"><div id="responsive-embed-phone-households-20151203" style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Nearly half of U.S. homes don&#39;t have a landline and rely on cellphones instead, according to a federal report out this week.</p><p>The number predictably has been climbing over the years,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/wireless201512.pdf" target="_blank">now surpassing</a>&nbsp;even the households with&nbsp;both&nbsp;a landline and a mobile phone. And it&#39;s tracked by &mdash; of all agencies &mdash; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p><div id="res458339288"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>The CDC&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/" target="_blank">National Center for Health Statistics</a>&nbsp;records all kinds of trends about the state of Americans&#39; health. One of its surveys traces&nbsp;<a href="http://www.columbiatribune.com/business/nearly-half-of-u-s-homes-ditch-landlines-for-cellphones/article_8aa74f5d-eee7-533d-ae93-290de072150a.html">the decline of landlines</a>&nbsp;and what kinds of health habits are common to mobile-only homes. (Hint: the drinking and smoking kind.)</p><p>How did the CDC become the expert on the rise of cellphone use? I spoke with Stephen Blumberg, who&#39;s been leading this research. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.</p><p>So&nbsp;you&#39;re the guy who&#39;s basically monitoring the slow death of the landline.</p><p>I guess I am.</p><div id="res458306175" previewtitle="Stephen Blumberg, associate director for science in the division of Health Interview Statistics at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Stephen Blumberg, associate director for science in the division of Health Interview Statistics at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/stephen_blumberg_cdc_vert-6776f27f339bf47c4eee2a58950d17e2ea026971-s200-c85.jpg" style="height: 266px; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Stephen Blumberg, associate director for science in the division of Health Interview Statistics at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)" /></div><div><div><p><strong>Why does the CDC study this?</strong></p></div></div></div><p>You&#39;re definitely not the first one to ask that. Back in 2003, we recognized that the telephone-based surveys conducted by the CDC would be missing an ever-growing segment of the population (that didn&#39;t have a landline phone). We looked to find a survey that would answer the questions about who this population is and what their health characteristics are.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/releases.htm" target="_blank">National Health Interview Survey</a>&nbsp;is an in-person survey with more than 40,000 households annually. And because it&#39;s conducted face-to-face by Census Bureau interviewers, it contacts landline households, wireless-only households, households that have no service at all. That made it an ideal vehicle for tracking the prevalence of the characteristics of the wireless-only population.</p><p>Since then, all of the major telephone surveys that CDC conducts now include cellphone numbers ... but we&#39;re the one survey in the federal statistical system that is tracking this estimate, and so we continue to do so.</p><p><strong>In </strong><strong>effect</strong><strong> it started out of your own necessity?</strong></p><p>That&#39;s correct. For telephone surveys, at first we were able to make adjustments for the exclusion of the individuals, or what&#39;s known as coverage bias &mdash; because we knew that they were younger, they were more likely to live in rented housing, they were more likely to be low-income. And so we could make adjustments.</p><p>What we started to recognize, however, fairly quickly, is that, in fact, their health characteristics were different, even when you controlled for all of those demographic differences. People who are wireless-only are more likely to smoke, they&#39;re more likely to binge drink, they&#39;re more likely to be uninsured. In effect, they are more likely to engage in risk behaviors.</p><p><strong>All the daredevils are dropping their landlines!</strong></p><p>You know, we can&#39;t say for certain; perhaps at that time dropping the landline was in effect risky behavior.</p><p><strong>It would make sense for it to be a factor of youth, no?</strong></p><p>Well, except when we controlled for age, we still saw these differences. Essentially, if we just looked at young people, we still saw that those young people who were wireless-only were more likely to drink and more likely to smoke than young people who had landlines.</p><p>Somebody once suggested that it would be interesting to try to extend preventive health messages to wireless-only individuals and try to target them for health promotion activities, but I don&#39;t know that anybody has actually done that.</p><p><strong>So is it related to income?</strong></p><p>We know that there&#39;s an income effect; however, part of that, if not all of that, is a function of age and living status. So young adults living in rented housing are more likely to be wireless-only. Those people are also more likely to have lower incomes than older adults who own their home.</p><div id="res458339286"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>We certainly see that lower-income households are more likely to be wireless-only. We think that&#39;s primarily the function of age and household tenure, but we also recognize that it costs money to have both a landline and a wireless phone, and those people who are looking to save money may recognize that a wireless phone gives them more functionality than a landline phone.</p><p><strong>Are you still seeing that correlation with risky behavior, or are we maybe approaching a point where only having a cellphone is more of a factor of convenience?</strong></p><p>We still see it in the general data, so if you take a look at the report, you can see that 29 percent of wireless-only adults are binge-drinkers whereas only 18 percent of adults living in landline households drink heavily.</p><p><strong>And what&#39;s the value of this information to the CDC?</strong></p><p>It&#39;s a reminder to us that for our telephone surveys we still need to be vigilant to include proper proportions of wireless-only households. That&#39;s the primary benefit at this point.</p><p>We continue to track (the information about wireless-only households) because it increases the accuracy of the health data we collect in our survey.</p><p><strong>In the years that you&#39;ve studied these households, has something about the data surprised you?</strong></p><p>I don&#39;t know that surprise is the word. But we&#39;ve been tracking this for 12 years now. I think we had expected that by now we would see some leveling off in the prevalence of wireless-only households &mdash; we don&#39;t see any evidence yet that that&#39;s occurring.</p><p><strong>So people are still dropping landlines?</strong></p><p>That&#39;s correct.</p><p><strong>I would have actually thought that by now, we would only see a small percentage of people even having landlines.</strong></p><p>I&#39;m guessing you&#39;re fairly young.</p><p>I haven&#39;t had a landline in a very long time. Though I&#39;m talking to you over a landline now.</p><p>And yet I&#39;m talking to you on a cellphone!</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/12/03/458225197/the-daredevils-without-landlines-and-why-health-experts-are-tracking-them?ft=nprml&amp;f=458225197" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 04 Dec 2015 13:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/daredevils-without-landlines-%E2%80%94-and-why-health-experts-are-tracking-them-114055 The 311 on Chicago's early phone numbers http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/311-chicagos-early-phone-numbers-109135 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/151751087&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Phone numbers weren&rsquo;t always just numbers.</p><p>Jeffrey Osman of Chicago&rsquo;s Bucktown neighborhood is sure of it. He remembers calling his friend Richie, a Humboldt Park resident, by dialing HUmboldt 6-5127. Translation on the telephone keypad: 486-5127.</p><p>Before 1977, Chicago phone numbers were often listed as Jeffrey remembers. The letters, which signified longer words, had once stood for exchanges &mdash; places where operators directed calls by plugging cords into switchboards with electric jacks that corresponded to individual telephone numbers.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/osmun.jpg" style="height: 133px; width: 200px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Jeffrey Osman had a hunch that old Chicago phone numbers were somehow tied to geography. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />Jeffrey&rsquo;s recollection was strong, but the backstory nagged him &mdash; enough that he sent Curious City this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;What is the history behind the old telephone exchanges? For example, how did they get names like HUmboldt 6?&rdquo;</em></p><p>What did we find after we dialed up the history of numbers and phone technology? Two big points. The first is that today&rsquo;s smartphone users &mdash; the most savvy of which rarely even use phone numbers &mdash; may not realize there was a time when dialing pals required a working list of phone numbers and perhaps letters. It was also best to have a mental map of where contacts were physically located!</p><p>The other takeaway is that Chicago&rsquo;s exchange names are more than interesting relics of an earlier time: They&rsquo;re part of the city&rsquo;s identity as a collection of neighborhoods.</p><p><strong>Operator, please</strong></p><p>Let&rsquo;s go back to the beginning. Chicago&rsquo;s first telephone exchange opened in 1878. Then, you actually told the operator the name and address you were trying to reach. Chicago&rsquo;s first switchboards were at the telephone company&rsquo;s central office downtown, and in two branches at Halsted Street and Canal Street.</p><p>Here&rsquo;re a few significant dates in the evolution of telephone numbers:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>Until <strong>1923</strong>, a dialer would call an operator and ask for the person they wanted to reach by giving their exchange name or number. Phone numbers were just three or four digits, <a href="http://phone.net46.net/chicago/index.html" target="_blank">with an exchange name tacked onto the front</a>. Names were sometimes selected to be memorable or easily understood over the phone. &ldquo;CALUMET-555,&rdquo; for example, could be taken from local Chicago geography.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>From <strong>1921-1948</strong>, dialers used three letters and four numbers. Operator-free dialing had also become common (<a href="http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/strowger-switch-purple-reign-redux/" target="_blank">the unlikely origins of the first automatic, operator-free dialing is the subject of an episode of 99 Percent Invisible</a>). Exchanges were given three-digit numbers and names that could be signified by the letters located on phone dials. CALUMET, for example, was 225 (CAL).</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Area codes were introduced in <strong>1947</strong>.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>In <strong>1948 </strong>local exchange name codes shrunk to just two letters, making room for a fifth digit that would allow phone companies to meet growing demand for new numbers. When possible, the old exchange names were preserved &mdash; to continue the example above, Calumet became CAlumet 5. Some number combinations didn&rsquo;t spell much at all, let alone a name that happened to have local significance. AT&amp;T had national lists of recommended exchange names, so <a href="http://forgottenchicago.com/articles/old-telephone-numbers/" target="_blank">some of Chicago&rsquo;s old exchange prefixes have nothing to do with the region</a>.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>In <strong>1958 </strong>Wichita Falls, Texas, <a href="http://www.privateline.com/TelephoneHistory3A/numbers.html" target="_blank">became the first U.S. city to institute &quot;true number calling&quot;</a> &mdash; seven numerical digits without letters or names.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>But in Chicago, many subscribers were loath to give up their exchange names. It took until <strong>1977 </strong>to fully phase out the system, and exchange names showed up in some Chicago phonebooks into the 1980s.</p></li></ul><p><strong>Local calls only</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s probably no surprise that history buffs are interested in anything having to do with changing technology, but you may not realize that some small groups are dedicated enough to maintain databases of the names. One group &mdash; <a href="http://rcrowe.brinkster.net/tensearch.aspx" target="_blank">The Telephone EXchange Name Project</a> &mdash; continues to accept new entries.</p><p><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/1959 Cover Chicago Exchange Names_0.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1959%20Cover%20Chicago%20Exchange%20Names.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 263px; width: 350px;" title="A Chicago phone book cover shows exchange names. Click for a larger size. " /></a>Exchange names are also of interest to pop culture mavens. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaCLxyvcKiU" target="_blank">Glenn Miller&#39;s 1940 hit &quot;Pennsylvania 6-5000&quot;</a> got its name from the phone number for The Hotel Pennsylvania in New York &mdash; 212-736-5000 &mdash; supposedly the city&rsquo;s longest continuously operational phone number. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/channel/HCIXOcLtgicWQ" target="_blank">Elizabeth Taylor won her first Oscar for the 1960 movie &quot;BUtterfield 8,&quot;</a> The film was named for the telephone exchange used by its main character.</p><p>But for our questioner, Jeffrey Osman, exchanges&rsquo; local relevance is paramount.</p><p>&ldquo;It created an awareness, I think, of where you were,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There are 77 distinct neighborhoods [in Chicago], and pretty much we&rsquo;re a very parochial people.&rdquo;</p><p>He still remembers several old numbers:&nbsp;&ldquo;I banked at Chicago Federal Savings, and that was&nbsp;Financial&nbsp;6-5000. We used to ride the Rock Island Railroad. The LaSalle Street station was&nbsp;Wabash&nbsp;2-3200.&rdquo;</p><p>So, in the sense that they were easy to remember, the geographical names worked.</p><p>The exchange names are gone, Jeffrey says, but Chicago&rsquo;s local pride endures.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s still that sense of neighborhood identity and awareness here.&rdquo;</p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/183687346/Chicago-Telephone-Exchanges" name="scribd" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Chicago Telephone Exchanges on Scribd">Chicago Telephone Exchanges</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_18822" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/183687346/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/311-chicagos-early-phone-numbers-109135