Once upon a time, making a telephone call was a long, complicated, drawn out affair. One would get dressed up in your finest evening jacket, put the children to bed, draw the curtains, pour a stiff drink and then lift the receiver and inform the operator (a real human being) that you wished to speak to someone else who had some sort of telephonic device. The operator would then connect you, whilst being extremely polite. But all of that nonsense was hurled into the dustbin of history on this day in 1958 when Subscriber Trunk Dialling (or STD, please don’t snigger) was introduced.
So monumental was this new automated system of calling a telephone number directly that none other than Queen Elizabeth II was chosen to make the first call. She decided to ring her old pal, the Lord Provost in Edinburgh, who was probably a bit surprised not to hear an operator, but the Monarch herself on the blower. This new automated system, and a line of payphones using slots for coins, soon revolutionised telephone use.