Category Archives: Vintage Telecom

Vintage Tele-Cost pricing guide for Los Angeles, CA

A friend of mine was cleaning out his father’s garage and found this pricing guide for Los Angeles, CA. Specifically the HIllcrest exchange 213-445, 446, and 447 exchanges. Back in the 1960s, the 213 area code was huge, and the farther you called, the more the call would cost. But the telephone company didn’t charge by miles, or by minutes. They priced the call by “Message Units”. Sometimes the cost of the call could surprise you, so this enterprising company came up with a pricing guide to tell you how many message units it would cost to call around your area. The information was readily available in your telephone book or asking your operator, but Tele-Cost (or TELE-CO$T) presented it in a nice chart to compare the cost of a 3-minute call vs. 5-minute and more. It looks like you could order one for any exchange, but since they were in Temple City, it may have just been a local thing to this area. I cannot find a reference to Tele-Cost anywhere else.

I have always known that exchange “names” were built from the first two numbers of the 7-digit telephone number. But I didn’t realize the Bell System would have multiple exchanges with the first two digits. For example, on the last page of this guide, there’s a list of the letter prefixes. DA-3, 4, 7, and 9 (prefixes 323, 324, 327, and 329) were called “DAvis”, but DA-5 and 6 (prefixes 325 and 326) were called “DAvenport”. I presume if you called the operator and asked for “DAvenport 3″, she might attempt to clarify that you have the right number, since DA-3 is really the”DAvis” exchange.

So this looks to be all of the assigned exchanges in the early 1960s in the 213 area code. Please also note the advertisement for Investors Savings and Loan Association. The telephone numbers for the ofices in Pasadena, Glendora, and East Pasadena are listed with the letter prefixes of SY 5, MU 1, and ED 5.

I would certainly love to hear from you if you have guides like this for your area, or if you stories about using exchange names when you were a kid.