It may seem like toll-free numbers have been around forever, but purchasing a phone number that didn’t cost the consumer a dime in service charges is a relatively new concept.
AT&T provided companies with toll-free numbers in 1967. By that time, toll-free numbers had been used in the UK for years.
In 1984, the Bell Company was dissolved, and new long distance carriers were able to pick up bundles of 800 numbers. This enabled companies to choose from multiple providers, but it also meant that companies would lose their existing toll-free numbers. As you might imagine, this was not conducive to building a reliable business image and often confused customers.
In 1993, toll-free numbers became completely portable, and businesses had the option of keeping their numbers when changing phone service carriers. Thus, toll-free numbers became a more effective business tool, and their popularity grew rapidly.
In fact, toll-free numbers became so sought after that the 800 area code numbers were quickly purchased, leading to the utilization of other area codes in recent years.