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Area Code History

When did area codes first come into use?

The area code system was developed by AT&T and Bell Laboratories in the 1940's, and went into effect in 1947. It was called the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) and included the United States and Canada .

How were the original area codes distributed?

In 1947, states and provinces that had a single area code we assigned three digit codes with 0 as the middle number, such as 203 for Connecticut and 305 for Florida . There were 86 area codes at that time.

States and provinces that had more than one area code distributed to them were given three digit codes with 1 as the middle number, such as 916 and 213 for various sections of California , and 212 and 518 for various sections of New York .

The first and third digits were allotted according to population density in the city or region the area code was going to, with the most populated areas getting the lowest numbers. The New York City area, for example, was assigned 212, while the surrounding suburbs were assigned 914.

The rationale for this “low number/high population” scheme was based on the fact that phones had rotary dials in those days. Lower numbers resulted in shorter “dial pulls” so it was reasoned that the regions with the most people in them should require the least “work” to call.

What were the first area codes ever assigned in North America ?

The following are the first 86 areas codes assigned in 1947:

Original Canada Area Codes: 1947
Province Area Code Section (if applicable)
British Columbia604 
Maritime Prov's.902 


Original United States Area Codes: 1947
State Area Code Section (if applicable)
Alabama 205
Arizona 602
Arkansas 501
California 213 southern
California 415 central
California 916


Colorado 303
Connecticut 203
Delaware 302
Florida 305
Georgia 404
Idaho 208
Illinois 217 Springfield, East St. Louis
Illinois 312 Chicago metro region
Illinois 618 southern
Illinois 815 northern
Indiana 317 northern
Indiana 812 southern
Iowa 319 eastern
Iowa 515 central
Iowa 712 western
Kansas 316 southern
Kansas 913 northern
Kentucky 502
Louisiana 504
Massachusetts 413 outside Boston metro region
Massachusetts 617 Boston metro region
Maine 207
Maryland 301
Mississippi 601
Montana 406
Missouri 314 eastern
Missouri 816 western
Michigan 313 Detroit, Jackson
Michigan 517 northeasterb
Michigan 616 western
Minnesota 218 northern and western
Minnesota 612 southeastern
Nebraska 402
Nevada 702
New Hampshire 603
New Jersey 201
New Mexico 505
New York 212 New York City boroughs
New York 315 Syracuse, Binghamton, Elmira, Utica, Watertown
New York 518 northeastern
New York 716 western
New York 914 Manhattan suburbs (Long Island, Westchester County, West Point)
North Carolina 704
North Dakota 701
Ohio 216 northeastern
Ohio 419 northwestern
Ohio 513 southwestern
Ohio 614 southeastern
Oklahoma 405
Oregon 503
Pennsylvania 215 Philadelphia and surrounding area
Pennsylvania 412 Pittsburgh and southwestern area
Pennsylvania 717 eastern central
Pennsylvania 814 western central
Rhode Island 401
South Carolina 803
South Dakota 605
Tennessee 901
Texas 214 northeastern
Texas 512 southern
Texas 713 southeastern
Texas 915 western
Utah 801
Vermont 802
Virginia 703
Washington 206
Washington DC. 202  
West Virginia 304
Wisconsin 414 southern
Wisconsin 715 northern
Wyoming 307

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