The Phone Number 321-Liftoff Is Not For Sale
November 19, 2014 8:34 AM   Subscribe

​​How I Got My Own Area Code: It took the combination of phone phreak and "space cadet" to find a relationship between the number 321 and the countdowns of Cape Canaveral.

Robert Osband's Prepared Testimony Before The Florida Public Service Commission 407 Numbering Plan Area Relief Suggesting Area Code "321": "In the NPA Inventory List of area codes, one of the numbers available specifically for "Geographic Relief" - exactly the purpose of our discussion here today - is the number 321. With the Space Coast of Florida as the Count-Down capitol of the world, this in my humble opinion, is the Area Code for us!"

"This is the story of how I got started in NASCAR related web sites, and how I got my telephone number": "So when it comes to Area Code 321, I asked for it, and the PSC approved it. That makes it my Area Code, right? OK, so it's a joke. Lighten up!

Shortly after the approval, I dialled a telephone number, and got a recording that said, "I'm sorry. the number you've dialled at Bell South Mobility is not in service at this time". That was the best news I could have heard!

I ran down to the BSM kiosk at the local mall, and asked the lady if I could get a cell phone with the number 543-8633. She called the Melbourne office, spoke with them a minute, hung up, and gave me the bad news.

"I'm sorry sir, but the boys in Melbourne tell me that the number you want is in the middle of a 'hundred-group' that's on a corporate rate. It's totally unavailable". I thanked her, and walked away dejected.

Next stop, the internet!"

"The Phone Number 321-Liftoff Is Not For Sale But I'm willing to Forward it to you or answer it to your liking": "The Company will provide a telephone number where 321-Liftoff should be Forwarded to. This should be a Receptionist position, where the person answering the phone can give an appropriate greeting. For example, Ozzie has been known to answer the phone, "You have Liftoff at SpaceLaunchInfo Dot Com. How may I help you. ", which immediately tells the caller, "Yes, we know what the telephone number spells", and where to find more information on the Internet, if they care to. Hangups at this point, or the announcment that the caller has a "wrong number" are frequent at this point."

In July 1999, "What is Area Code 321" was the Final Jeopardy Answer on the popular TV quiz show.

"Ozzie lives near Kennedy Space Center waiting for his ride home, considering how he got here."
posted by danabanana (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome! I met Ozzie once at the brewpub in Cocoa Beach. He was not shy about explaining his contribution to space history.

(To reference an earlier MeFi post, it may have been at a Red Elvises concert)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:38 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Any time an article starts out with the word 'alot' in the first sentence, I find it hard going.
I stuck it out, though.
posted by MtDewd at 8:53 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I remember the 1990s... area codes changed everywhere, and since I moved a lot, I had to memorize so many changes. It was so much simpler in the old days.
posted by crapmatic at 9:09 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was soooo happy when 321 area codes became available on Google Voice, I got my handle spelled in the form of a 321 phone number. I don't care if I move to the moon, I am never giving up that number.
posted by tilde at 9:12 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Of all the talks I've seen at HOPE (including mefi's own asavage), 3-2-1 stands out most in my mind. If I had made it to the Snowden talk, that might have trumped it.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:16 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nice find. And a good, feel-good story.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:01 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

3-2-1 stands out most in my mind.

I can't read that without following it with:
Contact is the secret,
It's the moment when everything happens.

Contact is the answer,
It's the reason why everything happens.

Contact! Let's Make Contact!

Three, Two, One, contact!
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:16 AM on November 19, 2014 [15 favorites]

And ... now I have the Bloodhound Gang theme running through my head.
posted by maxsparber at 10:29 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I like To Donna Love Bob from his site
posted by exogenous at 11:10 AM on November 19, 2014

This guy really has hinged his whole identity on this area code thing, hasn't he?
posted by cellphone at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Great find. Weird whenever I see my backwater home town in print. I encountered this gentleman several times in my library work. Nice guy. Everyone knew him as the guy who'd gotten us the 321 area code.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since I spent so much time in the Bell System, I sort of have a database of area codes in my head. People will look at their phones and say, "410, where the hell is that," and I'll say, "Maryland!" It's a quirk, but I hope it's endearing.

So my first thought upon seeing this post was, "Space Coast."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:56 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

321 is actually one of the oddest area codes in the country. It was a partial split, so the space coast changed from 407 to 321, but it also overlays 407 in Orlando. I had a 321 number on a Sprint phone in the Orlando rate center for a while, back in the days before GPRS was a thing that existed, so decent Internet was only available from the CDMA carriers.

I used a serial cable to tether the phone to my PDA to get on the Internet when traveling after I got tired of lugging a laptop halfway across the country. Eventually, Cingular got GPRS service and I canceled the Sprint line, but they failed to cancel it until the third time I called, by which time they claimed I owed them around $500 in past due monthly charges.

Back then 321 was new and everybody thought it was so cute.
posted by wierdo at 12:13 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a 321 phone number AT MY JOB AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER and I never made that connection. And that, children, is why the space shuttle no longer exists.
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:39 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]

(321) MakeRocket-GoNow
posted by avocet at 2:19 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

That's my area code! And weirdly, I never made the connection until earlier this week when I found the website through
posted by ostranenie at 5:31 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like Ozzie the self described hippy techie. I do sincerely hope that the peak moment in his life was not getting the area code and the phone number from large Bell.

I lived in Chicago for a long time. 312 area code. First time I heard someone give me a 321, I asked him what part of Chicago she lived in. She looked at me funny. I had had a few drinks so I asked several more times. Finally she said, "I don't live in Chicago. I live in Florida. You are annoying, 321 and I am blasting off." She then walked out of the bar. I did not get her reference until I just read this whole thing. Hmmm.
posted by 724A at 7:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

Cheshire Catalyst is one of my favorite people in the world.
posted by jscott at 12:58 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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