By the 1960s, advancing technology meant most callers didn’t need operators to make local phone calls. But operators continued to patch through collect calls, person-to-person calls and long-distance calls. Remember those?

Collect call: You would place a call through an operator, who would connect to the person you were seeking and ask them if they were willing to pay for the call. While parents were often the recipient of such calls from their children, it was also useful in emergencies and was also a sneaky way of letting someone know you had, for instance, arrived safely somewhere. In that latter case, the person would decline to pay, but the communication was still successful.

Person-to-person call: You would call the operator and ask to speak to a specific person. The operator would initiate the call and try to get that person on the line. The caller was not charged for the call unless the requested person was reached. As with collect calls, this method could be used communicate with another person without paying for the call, which could be relatively expensive back then.

Long distance call: An operator would help you complete a call outside your area, including international calls, once given the number you were wishing to call. They could also help you find a phone number for a person by giving them the person’s name and town or city.

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