The information retrieval method and apparatus includes a group of geographically widely-distributed terminals, which accept a remotely located host computer. Each terminal includes a memory for storing a plurality of items of call origination information. A call original circuit transmits individual ones of the items of call origination information via a communication path to the switching system for causing it to extend the path to the host computer. Logic circuits transfer a first one of the items of call origination information indicative of the geographically shortest communication path, to the call origination circuit in an attempt to extend a communication path, of the geographically shortest length, to the host computer. If the attempt proves unsuccessful, the logic circuit sends automatically a second one of the items of call origination information, indicative of the next shortest communication path length.