555 (telephone number)

The telephone number prefix 555 is a central office code in the North American Numbering Plan, used as the leading part of a group of 10,000 telephone numbers, 555-XXXX, in each numbering plan area (NPA). It has traditionally been used only for the provision of directory assistance, when dialing NPA-555-1212.

The central office code is also used for fictitious telephone numbers in North American television shows, films, video games, and other media in order to prevent practical jokers and curious callers from bothering telephone subscribers and organizations by calling telephone numbers they see in works of fiction.

Directory assistance

The traditional use of the office prefix 555 was for directory assistance. 555-1212 is one of the standard numbers for this purpose throughout the United States and Canada.

Fictional usage

Telephone companies began encouraging the producers of television shows and movies to use the 555 prefix for fictional telephone numbers by the 1960s.[1] Two early examples include The Second Time Around (1961), which used 555-3485, and Panic in Year Zero! (1962), which used 555-2106. In television shows made or set in the mid-1970s or earlier, "KLondike 5" or "KLamath 5" reflects the old convention for telephone exchange names. Before "555" or "KLondike-5" gained broad usage, scriptwriters would sometimes invent fake exchanges starting with words like "QUincy" or "ZEbra", as the letters "Q" and "Z" were not used on the old dial phones. Numbers in format "Zenith" X-XXXX, while not directly dialable, were not fictional. These were an early form of regional tollfree number which required operator assistance.

Only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are now specifically reserved for fictional use; the other numbers have been reserved for actual assignment. The entire 555 exchange is reserved in all overlay North American toll-free area codes (800, 844, 855, 866, 877, 888)[2] and in Canada's rarely used non-geographic area code 600.

555 use is restricted only in North America. In 1994, cartoonist Gary Larson's The Far Side included a panel with graffiti of a 555 number by which prank calls could be made to Satan. In Australia, 555 was at the time a standard exchange, and the Australian owner of the number became the subject of harassment, launching an unsuccessful lawsuit against Larson and his syndicate for defamation.[3]

The number "555-2368" (or 311-555-2368) is a carryover from the "EXchange 2368" ("Exchange CENTral") number common in telephone advertisements as early as the 1940s.[4] "555-2368" is the phone number used by Jim Rockford in the TV series The Rockford Files (as seen during the opening credits),[5] in the TV series The Mod Squad (episode: "And a Little Child Shall Bleed Them") and the Ghostbusters (as seen during their TV commercial within the film).[6]

555 numbers are mentioned directly in the 1993 action film Last Action Hero, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Danny Madigan" (played by Austin O'Brien) tries to convince Schwarzenegger's character that he is inside a movie by pointing out the 555 exchange provides at most 9,999 available telephone numbers, insufficient for all the phone users in Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger's character replies that area codes would solve that problem and O'Brien's character drops the subject.

The use of 555 numbers helps to avoid use of valid numbers in works of fiction or entertainment, which is problematic. Tommy Tutone's song "867-5309/Jenny"[7] and the cinematic release of Bruce Almighty displaying 776-2323 as a number to call God[8] both led to misdialed calls in multiple area codes. God's number was changed to a 555 exchange prefix in the video release of the movie. "777-9311" by The Time used Dez Dickerson's actual telephone number at the time the song was written, causing his phone to ring off the hook until he had his number changed. The Alicia Keys song "Diary" contains a real number in New York's area code 347, an overlay, but does not indicate an area code; the same number in some other area code is a common misdial.[9]

Other use

In the 1970s, dialing 555, at least in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, would bring one to a sort of party line known as "The Pipeline" whereby one could talk with others during the several-second intervals between a repeating recorded announcement to the effect that "The number you have dialed is not a working number. Please hang up and dial again."

In 1994, the North American Numbering Plan Administration began accepting applications for nationwide 555 numbers (outside the fictitious 555-01XX range). A number could be reserved in a single area code, a region or nationwide.[10] In theory, a consumer from any area code could be invited to dial a seven-digit number such as 555-TAXI and the owners of that number could connect the call to a local car service. However, according to a 2003 New York Times article, the desired functionality requires the cooperation of local phone authorities, and most phone companies have been reluctant to cooperate.[11] In May 2016, the Industry Numbering Committee (INC) determined that the purpose for which this resource was intended had been accommodated by other information/communication technologies. As of September 2016, all 555 numbers have been returned to the NANPA inventory except 555-1212 (national use directory assistance) and 555-4334 (national use assigned.)[12]

In 1996, Canadian telephone companies began promoting 555-1313 as "name that number", a pay-per-use reverse lookup which would give a subscriber name if the user entered an area code and a listed telephone number.[13] The fifty-cent information number was initially heavily advertised in area codes +1-604 (BCTel), +1-416 (Bell Canada), +1-506 (NBTel), +1-902 (Maritime T&T) and +1-709 (Newfoundland Tel), but was soon forgotten once Internet sites began providing free reverse lookup tools.

Use of 555- for anything other than 555-1212 style information numbers raises the problem that call cost is unclear to consumers; in theory, the numbers could be anything from toll-free to premium. This complicates the provision of toll restriction to local subscribers.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Cuccia, Mark. "CODE 555 AND THE MOVIES". Telecom Heritage (27). Australian Telephone Collectors Society Inc. Archived from the original on June 13, 2004.
  2. ^ "What Is a Toll-Free Number and How Does it Work?". U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  3. ^ "Laughs and Litigation: Taking The Joke Too Far". Radio National. 2001-03-27. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  4. ^ The Phone Lady (2001-10-25). "Telephone ads of the 1940's". Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  5. ^ NBC Productions (2014-06-21). "Rockford Files Answering Machine Messages (complete season 2)". Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  6. ^ Unknown (2014-06-21). "Full Ghostbusters TV Advert". Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  7. ^ "867-5309 is not Jenny". Lakeland Ledger. 1982-05-16. p. 2A. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  8. ^ articles.chicagotribune.com
  9. ^ snopes.com
  10. ^ "555 Line Numbers". CNAC. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  11. ^ Biederman, Marcia (2003-02-06). "Personal 555 Number Is Still Mostly Fiction". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "555 Line Numbers". NANP Administration.
  13. ^ Meade, Peter (1996-05-15). "Canadian telco offers users a handy reverse directory. (British Columbia Telephone Co.)". America's Network.
  14. ^ "ATIS-0300077: 555 Technical Service Interconnection Agreements" (PDF). Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions. September 2005. Retrieved 2014-06-12.

External links

555 (disambiguation)

555 may refer to:

555 (number)

555, a year in the Gregorian calendar

555 BC

555 timer IC, an integrated circuit used in a variety of timer, pulse generation, and oscillator applications

555 (telephone number), a telephone prefix commonly used in films and works of fiction

555 (1988 film), a direct-to-video horror film

Ainthu Ainthu Ainthu or Five Five Five or 555, an Indian film

Kamen Rider 555, a Japanese tokusatsu television series

State Express 555, a brand of cigarette

5:55, an album by Charlotte Gainsbourg

"555", a song by Sebastian Ingrosso

"555", a song performed by the band Phish and written by Mike Gordon

555 (number)

555 (five hundred [and] fifty-five) is the natural number following 554 and preceding 556.

Directory assistance

In telecommunications, directory assistance or directory enquiries is a phone service used to find out a specific telephone number and/or address of a residence, business, or government entity.

Domain name

A domain name is a label that identifies a network domain: a distinct group of computers under a central administration or authority.

Within the Internet, domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name. Domain names are used in various networking contexts and for application-specific naming and addressing purposes. In general, a domain name represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource, such as a personal computer used to access the Internet, a server computer hosting a web site, or the web site itself or any other service communicated via the Internet. In 2017, 330.6 million domain names had been registered.Domain names are organized in subordinate levels (subdomains) of the DNS root domain, which is nameless. The first-level set of domain names are the top-level domains (TLDs), including the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as the prominent domains com, info, net, edu, and org, and the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). Below these top-level domains in the DNS hierarchy are the second-level and third-level domain names that are typically open for reservation by end-users who wish to connect local area networks to the Internet, create other publicly accessible Internet resources or run web sites.

The registration of these domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.

A fully qualified domain name (FQDN) is a domain name that is completely specified with all labels in the hierarchy of the DNS, having no parts omitted. Labels in the Domain Name System are case-insensitive, and may therefore be written in any desired capitalization method, but most commonly domain names are written in lowercase in technical contexts.

Fictitious Internet resource

Fictitious Internet resources are websites, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, or other facilities that are purported to be associated with the Internet and are used in works of fiction or popular culture, such as movies and television shows. This is also known as 'logging on to the fourth wall'.

Fictitious telephone number

Ranges for fictitious telephone numbers are common in most telephone numbering plans. One of the main reasons these ranges exist is to avoid accidentally using real phone numbers in movies and television programmes because viewers frequently call the numbers used. In North America, the area served by the North American Numbering Plan (NANPA) system of area codes, fictitious telephone numbers are usually of the form (XXX) 555-xxxx. The use of 555 numbers in fiction, however, led a desire to assign some of them in the real world, and some of them are no longer suitable for use in fiction. Other areas have different fictitious telephone numbers.

To be effective, it must not be possible to change a fictitious telephone number into a real one by adding or changing a few digits. Usually, the number must be unassigned in every area code within the numbering plan. Outside NANPA, special fictitious telephone numbers for mobile phones, premium-rate numbers or toll free numbers are sometimes assigned as well.


Finder-Spyder is a fictional brand of Web search engine that appears in numerous, otherwise unaffiliated television shows, used in the same manner as the fictitious 555 telephone number in TV and film. Its graphic appearance varies, at times bearing a similarity to Google. It has been called "an unofficial, open source stand-in for Google and its competitors" (used as a legality-free alternative to a brand-name product), and "the most popular search engine in the TV universe." Finder-Spyder is a regular top 10 pick in "best fictional brand" lists by various online media, along with Oceanic Airlines, Morley cigarettes, Acme Corporation, and others.Finder-Spyder offers search engines for Web, images, news, forums, and blogs, also, Phone Trace, a for-a-fee reverse phone number lookup tool.

List of North American Numbering Plan area codes

The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) divides the territories of its member countries into Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs), each identified by a three-digit code commonly called area code.

The rules for numbering NPAs do not permit the digits 0 and 1 as the leading digit of an area code, which also applies for central office codes. 0 has been used traditionally for operator-assisted telephone calls, and the digit 1 was traditionally ignored in switching equipment as a leading digit, because it could not be distinguished reliably from intermittent loop disconnections when subscribers operated telephones. NPAs with 9 as the second digit are reserved for future format expansion. Area codes with the last two digits matching, such as 322 and 755, are considered easily recognizable codes (ERC), and are also reserved; existing assignments are the toll-free codes 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833. Area code 822 is expected to be used in the future, followed by 880 through 887, then 889.

Misdialed call

A misdialed call or wrong number is a telephone call to an incorrect telephone number. This may occur because the number has been physically misdialled, the number is simply incorrect, or because the area code or ownership of the number has changed. In North America, toll-free numbers are a frequent source of wrong numbers because they often have a history of prior ownership. In the United Kingdom, many misdialled calls have been due to public confusion over the dialling codes for some areas.

Placeholder name

Placeholder names are words that can refer to objects or people whose names are temporarily forgotten, irrelevant, or unknown in the context in which they are being discussed.

SAM 123

SAM 123 is a fictitious license plate number in the United States and Canada, often reserved for use as an example license plate, similar to the way the 555 telephone number is a fictitious telephone number prefix, to be used for creating example telephone numbers. Some states have also reserved the combination "SAMPLE". However, not all states and provinces use SAM 123, with it appearing on regularly issued license plates. These states and provinces tend to use other numbers such as ABC 123.

Some of the uses include photographs of license plates for advertising purposes, for use as a fictitious license plate on automobiles in films, and for any other purpose where use of a real license plate number is undesirable.

Suspension of disbelief

The term suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. The term was coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Suspension of disbelief often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, and horror genres. Cognitive estrangement in fiction involves using a person's ignorance to promote suspension of disbelief.The phrase "suspension of disbelief" came to be used more loosely in the later 20th century, often used to imply that the burden was on the reader, rather than the writer, to achieve it. This might be used to refer to the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those premises. These premises may also lend to the engagement of the mind and perhaps proposition of thoughts, ideas, art and theories.Suspension of disbelief is often an essential element for a magic act or a circus sideshow act. For example, an audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half or transforms into a gorilla in order to enjoy the performance.

According to the theory, suspension of disbelief is an essential ingredient for any kind of storytelling. With any film, the viewer has to ignore the reality that they are viewing a staged performance and temporarily accept it as their reality in order to be entertained. Black-and-white films provide an obvious early example that audiences are willing to suspend disbelief, no matter how implausible the images appear, for the sake of entertainment. With the exception of totally color blind people (achromats), no person viewing these films sees the real world without color, but some are still willing to suspend disbelief and accept the images in order to be entertained. Suspension of disbelief is also supposed to be essential for the enjoyment of many films and television shows involving complex stunts, special effects, and seemingly unrealistic plots and characterizations.

Val Verde (fictional country)

Val Verde is a fictional country or city used by Hollywood writer and producer Steven E. de Souza when his stories require a South- or Central-American locale that will not cause legal or diplomatic problems. The location first appeared in his 1985 film Commando.

The name translates as "Green Valley", as "Val" is valley in numerous Latin-based languages (Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, old-fashioned French, Galician and others).

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