Ramblings & ephemera

Early attempts to control phone usage

From R. W. Kostal’s Law and English Railway Capitalism, 1825-1875 (quoted in Andrew Odlyzko’s “Pricing and Architecture of the Internet: Historical Perspectives from Telecommunications and Transportation“):

In Britain in 1889, postal officials reprimanded a Leicester subscriber for using his phone to notify the fire brigade of a nearby conflagration. The fire was not on his premises, and his contract directed him to confine his telephone “to his own business and private affairs.” The Leicester Town Council, Chamber of Commerce, and Trade Protection Society all appealed to the postmaster-general, who ruled that the use of the telephone to convey intelligence of fires and riots would be permitted thenceforth.

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