I often think that we – or maybe the people who control our money – lack the courage to take on really big projects. It is hard to imagine the laying of the transatlantic cable for the first time today, for example. When I want a good example of this effect, I usually say something like, “Can you imagine going into a large company boardroom today and saying,” We plan to run a cable to every house? and business around the world and connect them all together. ‘ Yet that is what the telephone company did. But it turns out that running copper wire everywhere was only a major challenge for the telephone company. The other printed phone books. In today’s world, it is easy to imagine a computer system that keeps track of all the phone numbers that can spit out a printed version for duplication. But this is a relatively recent innovation. How did major city directories work before the advent of the computer?

It turns out that the Saturday Evening Post explained how it all worked in a 1954 article. We’re not sure there weren’t any computerized records in 1954, but the whole process was still largely manual. . In that year, approximately 60,000,000 directories were published each year in the United States alone. Some of them were small, but the Chicago directory – not counting the suburban directories – was over 2,100 pages long. In New York, the solution was to print a separate book for each borough. Even then. the Manhattan book was three inches thick and is expected to reach five inches by 1975.

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