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The first telephhone book wasn’t a book…and didn’t have any telephone numbers

I was reading the Wikipedia entry on the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol when I was struck by this sentence:

Telecommunication companies’ understanding of directory requirements were well developed after some 70 years of producing and managing telephone directories.

I then asked myself the question – when was the first telephone book created? According to this page, it appeared on February 21, 1878. It listed all of the subscribers of the New Haven (Connecticut) District Telephone Company.

But when you look at the directory, you’ll notice two things.

First, you’ll notice that it consists of a single page. Since telephones were in their infancy, there weren’t a whole bunch of people with telephones at the time. Only eleven residences, for example, had telephones.

Second, you’ll notice that there are no telephone numbers. That’s because telephone numbers hadn’t been invented yet. If Rev. John E. Todd wanted to call the American Tea Co., Rev. Todd would simply pick up the phone and ask to be connected to the tea people. The idea of telephone numbers wouldn’t be invented until 1892.

And, of course, the telephone was tied to a wall by a cord…something that would persist for over a century.

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One thought on “The first telephhone book wasn’t a book…and didn’t have any telephone numbers

  1. Pingback: The wide open frontier of technology | Outrun Change

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