Why do I have to dial '1' for long distance?

The question is a simple one: why do I have to dial “1” for long distance from my home phone?
This likely doesn’t apply to VoIP users, but I still use POTS at home.
I understand that it is an artifact of the way that the long distance system was originally built. However, my home line is the only phone I use that requires me to dial “1” first.
On both my mobile (T-Mobile) and office phones (MCI VoIP), I dial 10 digits and I am done.
So, why can’t the local phone systems figure this one out?

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