Friday, May 30, 2008

The First Phonebook

The only known edition of the world's first telephone book has just surfaced in Connecticut. November 1878 is about a hundred years earlier than the usual focus of this blog, but it's old technology all the same. Some notes:

- The whole document is only 20 pages.
- Users were asked to limit calls to three minutes, so other subscribers would have a chance to use the line.
- "Hulloa!" is the appointed greeting when you initiate a call. (I had thought it had been "Ahoy-hoy").
- "Never take the telephone off the hook unless you wish to use it."
- "When you are done talking say, 'That is all,' and the person spoken to should say, 'O.K.'"

The telephone was a source of uneasy paranoia when it was first introduced. If it can transmit our voice to others when we wish it to - how do we know it's not "listening" at other times?

Article at Discovery News.

P.S.: The first computer bulletin board system went online 100 years later. These, you recall, were how people outside governmental, educational or military organizations traded electronic mail and files and used message forums before the Internet became widespread for casual use. Bulletin Board Systems used phone lines too - and in the 21st century dial-up online connections, pay phones, and to some extent land lines in general, are now in decline.

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