Fact of the day: 21st February

On this day in 1878 the first telephone book is issued in New Haven, Connecticut.

The first telephone directory, consisting of a single piece of cardboard, was issued on 21 February 1878; it listed 50 businesses in New Haven, Connecticut that had a telephone.

The first British telephone directory was published on 15 January 1880 by The Telephone Company. It contained 248 names and addresses of individuals and businesses in London; telephone numbers were not used at the time as subscribers were asked for by name at the exchange. The directory is preserved as part of the British phone book collection by BT Archives.

In 1981 France is the first country to have an Electronic Directory on an Internet system called Minitel. The Directory is called “11” after its telephone access number.

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1996 is the year the first telephone directories go online in the USA. Yellowpages.com and Whitepages.com, and usrdir.com both see their start in April.

In the 21st century, printed telephone directories are increasingly criticized as waste. In 2012, after some North American cities passed laws banning the distribution of telephone books, an industry group sued and obtained a court ruling permitting the distribution to continue. Manufacture and distribution of telephone directories produces over 1,400,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases and consumes over 600,000 tons of paper annually.

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