Who knew area codes would mean so much to so many people?

A man named Linc Madison has poured all kinds of data and maps and trivia tidbits about area codes across the continent into a website he maintains.

I didn’t get a chance to chat with him for my story on the future of the 760 area code, but I just spoke with him this afternoon about his affinity for telephony.

“When I was a kid, I was fascinated with numbers and telephones and maps,” he said. “And the intersection of the three was the area code map in the phone book.”

Madison pointed out that San Diego was originally part of the 213 area code, which now serves a small island in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. After that, San Diego was part of 714 from the 1950s until it split to become 619 in the early 1980s.

Here’s a map of area codes from 1947. And here’s Madison’s most recent map, from 2005.

Madison works with computers and keeps track of the area code happenings as a hobby. The San Franciscan says California has the most area codes of all the states.

“On a per capita basis we’re probably not the top, although we’re certainly not the bottom, either,” he said.

Drawing from his knowledge of split precedents, Madison predicted that the 760 region will be split geographically and that the North San Diego County cities will retain the 760 code.

On an even lighter note, my colleague Scott Lewis told me about a Simpsons episode where Springfield is split into two area codes and “New Springfield” (with the new 939 area code) is pitted against “Olde Springfield” (636). Homer, as mayor of the new side, builds a wall through the city, like Berlin, and eventually persuades the band The Who to perform there instead of on the old side. Members of The Who suggest the residents get speed dial to solve their problems and thus preserve town unity. And a power chord from Pete Townshend proves forceful enough to tear down the wall.

In a Survival first, here’s a YouTube clip of the Simpsons-land phone company’s lame attempt to convince residents that the split is a good idea:


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