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Yeah, I think I could tear this in half

Ladies and gentlemen, positively the last phone book. I’ve bought thicker magazines.

I’m not sure I believe this, you know. My memory is the last few phone books were called the last. I’m not sure why we’re getting it now, either – it was billed as coming out in October. I think this is a money spinner and they’re marketing it to businesses as, “be in the last ever phone book!”

But I can’t be arsed to open it because, who cares?

The very first BT phonebook was published in 1880 and had just 248 London names – and no telephone numbers! Sixteen years later, the first national phonebook was 1,350 pages and 81,000 names.

I know. The idea of a national phonebook is brain hurty.

The first American phone book was published in 1878. It was a sheet of cardboard with 50 names on it all from New Haven, Connecticut. Reason being, it was invented nearby and Bell had demo’d it in New Haven the year before. So, fifty early adopters.

Names, again. You don’t think they’d dial numbers themselves? They called the switchboard and had the girl do it.


Comment from durnedyankee
Time: March 12, 2024, 9:01 pm

Anyone else ever had the “party line” experience for phones where the number of rings determined who the call was for?
(and people listening in of course….)

Or being told NEVER pick up the phone if it rings during a lightning storm because….IT MIGHT BE THE LIGHTNING!

Ah, youth.

Now my friggin washer and dryer want to be hooked up to the internet, want access to our home network and will “call me” on my cell phone when the clothes are done washing or drying.
Uh, how about NO THEY WON’T.

Favorite phone book thing – Steve Martin in “The Jerk” when he finds his name in the phone book for the first time.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: March 12, 2024, 9:59 pm

I remember well that as a young man I still needed to go through a human operator to call my grandmother (born 1888) long after direct dialing was ubiquitous. She lived in Norton VA, down in the southwest part of the state, and even as late as the 1980s her phone number was 8.

The conversations with the operators were always kinda weird.

Comment from ExpressoBold Pureblood
Time: March 12, 2024, 11:20 pm

EXport 99369…

My first Direct Dial Local Phone number.

I was also alive but not using the telephone when “party line” was an active technology.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: March 13, 2024, 12:20 am

Walker 2 2561.

hilarious, I can barely remember my cell phone number sometimes.

Comment from Veeshir
Time: March 13, 2024, 12:37 am

I remember being excited the first time I saw my name in the phone book.
Yes, just like The Jerk.

My childhood number was FEderal 8-1078.
In my grandma’s small town in the Catskills, they had 4 digit dialing at least into the 80s. I always thought that was odd.

Comment from p2
Time: March 13, 2024, 1:56 am

My folk’s had a party line until the mid-70’s… Grandparent’s numbers were SW 7 7564 & RA4 6541; that’s how they’d give it long after the letters were dropped from use. I ended up with similar numbers in the 80’s & 90’s: Felixstowe 279139 & Woodbridge 3965. The girl I shoulda married…Ipswich 623307. The one I did marry (she’s an ex now) had an Ipswich number as well, but I’ll be buggered if I can recall it.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: March 13, 2024, 3:18 pm

We could actually use a new national phone book (online of course) . If you want to know who called you these days and it’s not a known business on the web it’s going to cost you to find out.

Google used to have free number look-up but stopped it a decade or more ago. Now you must use “White Pages” or a similar paid app.

This irritates me.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: March 13, 2024, 7:02 pm

Remember when area codes came into existence?

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: March 13, 2024, 10:18 pm

the first national phonebook was 1,350 pages and 81,000 names.

Hmm. That’s only 60 names per page. A classic White Pages phonebook had 350-400. Some early and small directories might have fewer per page, but 1,350 pages seems very ungainly. Was it issued in multiple volumes?

Comment from MikeInFairfax
Time: March 14, 2024, 3:20 am

“Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”
–Here’s to you, Ernestine!


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