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Idaho Falls, Idaho • As Idaho prepares to get its second area code, its oldest residents are recalling when the state didn't have an area code at all.
Starting Saturday, residents will have to switch to 10-digit dialing to prepare for a new "986" area code coming in August, the Post Register reports.
The "208" area code Idaho's only one until now was introduced in 1947 and replaced a system where residents dialed a few letters and numbers to make a call.
But the state is running out of numbers due to cellphone users, voice-over-internet calling and other technologies.
Idaho is one of a dozen states remaining with just one area code.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission says the new area code will be assigned to new numbers and no existing numbers will change.
The commission was able to delay the need for a new area code for 15 years, but finally had to make the addition.
For some of Idaho's oldest residents, it's the second major telephone change they've lived through.
Sylvia Buerkle, 88, has lived in Idaho Falls since 1955 and remembers the days of switchboard operators and having only three minutes to have a conversation before being cut off.
"Possibly because I was raised that way, I don't like to chitchat on the phone," Buerkle said. "I never have and never will."
Noma Smart, 97, grew up in Idaho Falls, said she remembers when telephone numbers began with two letters.
Hers, along with the rest of Idaho Falls telephone numbers, began with "JA" for Jackson, Wyo. Smart remembers her phone number as JA-522.
Leo Larsen, 87, from Idaho Falls, said that when he was young, his family's barn caught on fire, and in order to call the fire department, he had to run across the street to a neighbor's home and ask them to make the emergency call.
"There might only be one or two phones on a block," he said. "There wasn't any way of communicating. You had to go somewhere where somebody had a telephone, and sometimes that was a great distance."