Telephone books are funny old things, aren’t they? I mean they are quite literally a thing of the past as the internet has made them obsolete for the biggest part of our population, but they really can be quite entertaining. I mean, I might just be a complete weirdo but a telephone book can keep me entertained for quite some time.
First up, I check if I can find people I know. Then I laugh at funny names (sorry, but I’m a big kid at heart) and of course, then there’s the part where I imagine Colin Firth reading it to me in the most perfect British accent mankind has ever seen.
Obviously, we all know that that’s not the real purpose of telephone directories, at least not the last two points, but I bet you didn’t know these 10 telephone book facts:
10 random telephone book facts:
1. The first telephone book ever was published in New Haven, Connecticut in the United States in 1878 and listed a whopping 50 people and businesses. To put things into perspective, it’s the same year Anna Karenina came out!
2. The first telephone book of the UK was brought out on 15 January 1880 by The Telephone Company. It contained 248 names and addresses of Londoner individuals and businesses and is preserved as part of the British phone book collection by BT Archives.
3. Between 1889 and 1984, there were 1,780 British phone books released in the UK.
4. In 1999, the first online telephone directories and people finding sites went online in the UK. Since 2003, you can even search the electoral roll on websites like the White Pages.
5 Icelandic telephone books are in first name order followed by surnames, occupations, and addresses.
6. The most telephone directories ripped in two minutes from the spine are 33. The record was set by Cosimo Ferrucci (Italy) on the set of Zheng Da Zong Yi – Guinness World Records Special in Beijing, China, on 21 December 2010.
7. The first entry in the UK’s first telephone book was “John Adam & Co, 11 Pudding Lane, London”. The directory also included Alexander Graham Bell’s number as well as Buckingham Palace listed as Victoria 6913 and Winston Churchill as Paddington 1003.
8. Over 60% of British households aren’t listed in the telephone directory.
9. In the 1920s and 30s, pages of telephone books carried instructions about the correct phone etiquette, e.g. “Answer telephone promptly”, “Subscribers should not engage the telephonist in conversation” or “Don’t say Hullo! Announce your identity.”