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The first three numbers are called the area code. Originally, the area code was based on the population in the area and the ease of dialing it on a rotary phone. So a 212 or 312 was very populated, while 909 would be a rural area. They originally only had a 1 or a 0 in the middle to accommodate the switching system. Now they can be any three digits as computer systems can handle the differences.

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Q: What are the first three numbers of a phone number called?
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