Friday, November 19, 2010

Demise of the white pages started in the 1980s

In 2010, I read that several phone companies are phasing out distribution for the printed versions of white pages to all their customers. White pages are still available by request, though. Most people look up phone numbers on line these days.

Another example of how the old world has been deteriorating for some time now while a new world is emerging.

Back in the heydays of Ma Bell, before the 1980s, folks got one local phone book, but the public library was full of directories from all over the country. People could look up numbers in just about any city by visiting the library. Browsing that shelf of phone directories was a window into local life across America.

Then came the 1980s and the situation started to change. Instead of getting one phone book to your home, you got several redundant phone books all with the same local listings. There were the Plaid Pages, the regular phone book and a whole stack of others. Competing directory companies all offering similar listings. Meanwhile at the library, that shelf for out of town directories started to dwindle. There wasn't money in providing directories to out of town libraries.

It took the on line world to save the day again. One can now look up out of town things without even having to go to the library and that stack of paper phone books dumped at each home is receding to history; sort of. I guess the Yellow Pages are still filling one's doorstep with redundant local directories.

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