Bentz or one of his colleagues would go to all the big pay-per-view events, like Wrestle Mania, and interview the stars.
Bentz founded a company called Advanced Telecom Services to assist 900 number entrepreneurs, and soon he’d helped launch phone lines that look like a preview of today’s most popular websites.
ATS also created a large network of sports lines with an emphasis on college football recruiting.
He remembers being in a meeting with 25 or so of the first national pay-per-call developers when someone asked how many people in the room were millionaires. In contrast to the early web, where content was free, the 900 number business began with a business model—charge for content by the minute.
By 1989, AT&T, MCI, Sprint, and a smaller carrier called Telesphere had opened up 900 numbers to the masses, so anyone with a bit of start-up cash could start a line.
Some numbers were kind of like subreddits of the late 1980s and early 1990s, where people with a common interest could get updates.
ATS had a guitar tuning hotline (“Dial an A”), a mortgage calculator hotline, an insomnia hotline that played music to help you fall asleep (“The only problem was the bill the next morning,” says Bentz), and a hotline for drum and bugle corps competitors to learn their results.“It didn’t take long for them to realize that they were making more from the supplement,” says Bentz. If the receiving person liked what they heard, they might send a message back. Personals were a huge moneymaker for newspapers then, so ATS teamed with them to combine the hotlines with the print ads, forming partnerships with more than 200 newspapers., and ATS partnered with Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Miss Elizabeth, among others.The episode caused such an unexpected spike in calls that AT&T, the phone carrier, later created AT&T billed more than 0,000 that night, marking a glorious moment for the young 900 number business.In the late 1980s, dialing a number with the 900 prefix on your landline phone became a way to gain access to a web of information on any number of subjects before the Internet as we know it existed.But instead of offering it for free alongside poorly-performing ads, 900 numbers supported content creators.