World's Oldest Telephone Book Discovered
Considering the giant, 10lbs phone book that arrived on my doorstep the other day, the first known telephone book was only 20 pages long, and listed useful information to 391 subscribers in New Haven, Conn.
It was published by Alexander Graham Bell, and had such helpful hints as 'Never take the telephone off the hook unless you wish to use it.' and saying 'that is all' instead of good-bye.
The book was in the keeping of a private collector, RIchard Green, a physician and amateur astronomer. The phone book will be sold along with the rest of his library by Christie's of New York in June.
The only known edition of the world's first telephone book has just surfaced in Connecticut.
It will be auctioned along with a collection of noteworthy books and documents covering technology, science, math and philosophy over six centuries.
The 20-page directory was issued in November of 1878, just two years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. The phone book contained information useful to 391 subscribers within the New Haven, Conn., area who were obviously still learning their way around the new communication device.
"Should you wish to speak to another subscriber you should commence the conversation by saying, 'Hulloa!'" it instructs.
This is the world's first phone directory—and it's going up for sale next month in New York at Christie's auctioneers. The Telephone Directory, Volume 1, Number 1, for New Haven, Connecticut, aptly enough, is, at 20 pages, more of a pamphlet than the kind of thing that big strong men rip in half to make the ladies swoon (and us geeks shrug and say, "SFW?") But the funniest thing about The Telephone Directory (apart from the estimated price) is the first eight pages—which are instructions on how to use the telephone.
"Should you wish to speak to another subscriber you should commence the conversation by saying, 'Hulloa!'" Discovery News quoted the book, as stating.
Tom Lecky, who is head of books and manuscripts at Christie's auction house, said: "The directions start off by amusingly saying, '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.'"
Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent on his telephone in 1876. He demonstrated it to visitors to the PhiladelphiaCentennial Exposition that same year. In early 1878, he installed the first telephone exchange, in New Haven,Connecticut. The first telephone "book" - actually just a single 14 cm. x 21 cm. sheet - was issued in New Haven in 1878.Below is a 1978 facsimile of that sheet. To the right is the same text, suitable for computer searching.