January 24, 2014

Obsolete Printing Technologies: The Phonebook –

Filed under: Obsolete Printing Technologies — Janelle Sullivan @ 11:50 am

By Janelle Sullivan

I used to love the day the new phonebooks would arrive. I loved opening it up and looking for our name and phone number. I would feel so grown up when my mom would ask me to look up a number for her. And then there were all those other uses for phonebooks; like a booster seat when my hair needed a trim or a great step up for Mom’s step aerobics. Slowly but surely the phone book has faded away. I don’t have one in my home at all. I have opted out of receiving one, in the interest of saving paper, as I wouldn’t use it, anyway.

History of the Phone Book

Telephone directories have been around as long as telephones have been in existence. The first on was printed in New Haven, CT in 1878. Phonebooks started out as one page documents, usually with business listings. Originally there were no phone numbers because the operator would connect you. The white pages list personal names, numbers and addresses, in alphabetical order. The yellow pages are for business listings. You will find these listings in categories, such as dentists, doctors or movie theaters. Each category would be listed in alphabetical order. Phonebooks are becoming one more in a long line of obsolete printing technologies. They are widely considered to be a waste of resources and many believe that they should not be printed and delivered in bulk any longer.

Where are They Going?

Why have phonebooks joined the ranks of obsolete printing technologies? The internet is the culprit. In recent years it has become so easy to look up a phone or address listing on the internet that people rarely use a phone book anymore. Your computer sits on a desk, along with your phone and a pen and paper. A few keystrokes and you have access to all of the information you need without ever having to get up. Add smart phones to the mix and you can get phone numbers and addresses with the push of a button. You can even get directions delivered directly to your phone in seconds. With the right phone, you only need to tell the phone to dial and you are connected to the person you wanted to speak to. Sure does make a phone book seem pretty outdated, doesn’t it?

What Can You Do With Your Old Phone Book?


  1. It has been an age old show of strength to rip a phone book in half. So you could give that a try, and then post your video on YouTube. Lots of folks have done that.
  2. Use the pages to wash your windows. It will give you a streak free, clean and sparkly window.
  3. Origami or paper beads can be a great way to entertain the kids on a rainy day.
  4. Use the pages as mulch, or make seed starter pots.
  5. Paper Mache

So, show us your strength, or be creative, or even look up someone’s phone number but find some use for that phone book. Someday soon they will be obsolete.


Connect with Janelle

So Who is Janelle Sullivan Anyway?


Popular Ink & Toner