I was watching some crappy film a while back when one of the characters was telling the other one an important phone number. It went something like “555-XXXX”. I decided, in a state of boredom, to look up that number and see it it really existed.
And I found out the following vastly interesting piece of trivia, that I had not been previously aware of: the prefix “555” on phone numbers in the US is reserved for “fictional use”.
Since the 70s, you see, telephone companies in the US have encouraged TV and films to use the “555” prefixes when they need a made-up number. This was, I assume, to avoid them giving an actual number to a “bad guy” in a movie and having a few thousand crazy Yanks ring up some poor farmer in Minnesota and pour abuse at him for “killing that poor Jodie Foster and cuttin’ her sweet arms off”.
These days however, according to the helpful souls over at Wikipedia, “only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are now specifically reserved for fictional use”. This gives the interesting situation where all of the films and TV shows made before about 10 years ago may now be using “fake” numbers that are now actually assigned to real people and businesses.
Here is a list of imaginary numbers, taken from TV and film. Nice to see that Mr. Burns from the Simpsons has 555-0001!
One more pointless fact: the company I work for has “555” as a prefix; my direct number is 08-555XXYYY. Does this make my job imaginary..?