Thank you for your question regarding historic long distance rates. I
have found the following information which should provide you with the
answer you seek.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all
communications carriers in the US to regularly report on their rates,
and makes a summary of this information available annually as part of
their "Statistics of Common Communications Carriers" package.
The package for 1994 contains a table (in Lotus 1-2-3 format, which MS
Excel can open) showing the AT&T rates from 1950 through 1994, for
calls from New York to SF/LA, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The most
recent package (for 2001) contains the rates for 1995 through 2001, if
you require them.
You can find the 1994 package on the FCC website at the following
Index for 1994 package:
ZIP file containing the chart you want (table 7.1):
(look at file "947-1.WK3").
An example of the data, for 1950:
New York-LA, 5 minute call: $3.70
10 minute call: $6.70
If you use the CPI calculator found at the Federal Reserve website:
you can convert these 1950's dollars into 2003 dollars, resulting in
New York-La, 5 minute call in 1950, in 2003 dollars: $28.19
10 minute call in 1950, in 2003 dollars: $51.04
which is a far cry from the TV commercials you see these days for $1
for 30 minutes anywhere in the US!
To see how international long distance rates have similarly changed,
take a look at pages 10-11 of the following presentation (PowerPoint
In this chart, presented by Dr. Robert J. Beck at the 2001 Global
Studies Summit Institute (University of Wisconsin), he comments on how
a 3 minute telephone call from New York to London in 1930 cost the
equivalent of $300 in 2001 dollars. In the chart, one can extrapolate
that in 1950, the same call was between $50-75 (again in 2001
dollars). Definitely a far cry from our current <$0.05/minute rates
for the same call!
I hope this information helps. That phone call to Don Drysdale
probably cost the equivalent of several months' allowance for the