"If the phone rang and you were in another room, you had to come running: in that immediate sense, and in a way that now seems comical, your phone controlled you. And before the ‘90s, there was no caller ID, an inconvenience which ensured, for that benighted first century-plus of the instrument’s analog existence, the first premise of phone horror—that you could never know for certain whose voice, or what sound, would issue from the other end of that raised receiver
." - HiLoBrow is in the middle of a series
exploring the tropes and history of Phone Horror. Of particular note is the brief historical connection between the telephone and the world of occult crypto-science
- The Atlantic explains further.
posted by The Whelk
on Jun 25, 2014 -
Once upon a time, the telephone was a strange, intimidating invention. So in 1974, the fine folks at the phone company made a short film to help children overcome their telephone-related fear and uncertainty. Taking their cues from children's entertainment, they tried to create a fun-filled land of song and dance, not unlike, say, Sesame Street. The end result was not exactly successful along those lines (it turns out that not even a catchy song can make the white pages exciting), but is no less compellingly, weirdly watchable for it. Come with us (and with Telly, a strange, merry man who kind of comes off like one of the Telephone Elves of the Eschaton) to the magical land of Telezonia.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER
on Jul 19, 2013 -
A GRAVE JOKE ON UNDERTAKERS — Some malicious wag at Providence, R.I. has been playing a grave practical joke on the undertakers there, by summoning them over the telephone to bring freezers, candlesticks and coffin for persons alleged to be dead. In each case the denouement was highly farcical, and the reputed corpses are now hunting in a lively manner for that telephonist.
uncovers the birth of the prank call
. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole
on Nov 6, 2011 -
In August, Google added a feature to Gmail that lets you make phone calls
— for free, if you live in the US or Canada and you're calling someone in the US or Canada. When you make a call, your number shows up as 760-705-8888. Judging by the nine pages of complaints found here
, the service is often being used to prank, harass and scam people. [more inside]
posted by defenestration
on Oct 2, 2010 -
: Even if your Alphabet Conspiracy succeeds and you destroy the books, machines have no minds of their own. They are easily confused by different voices and different accents. It is the brain of man that tells them what to do. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Aug 20, 2010 -
The Fore River Shipyard
was in service between 1886 and 1985, first under the management of the Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company, then Bethlehem Steel, and finally General Dynamics. She helped to close out the age of sail with the construction of the largest sailing vessel in history
without any kind of engine. Besides providing a substantial number of liberty ships, surface warships of various classes, and submarines during WWII, it may also be the source of the "Kilroy was here"
graffiti. [more inside]
posted by rmd1023
on Nov 4, 2009 -
The Smoking Gun turns the table on a group of pranksters allegedly responsible for terrorizing strangers over the phone: Outing An Online Outlaw
describes how the group leader used skype, an unprotected wifi connection and his mothers bedroom to engage in what TSG calls "an orgy of criminal activity."
posted by krautland
on Aug 4, 2009 -
[archaic tech filter] Foreign correspondents and reporters in the field at the New York Times
say goodbye to the paper of record's recording room
posted by digaman
on Dec 6, 2007 -
For four months, the Kuykendalls, the Prices and the McKays say they’ve been harassed and threatened by mysterious cell phone stalkers who track their every move and occasionally lurk by their homes late at night, screaming and banging on walls.
Police can’t seem to stop them. The late-night visitors vanish before officers arrive. The families say investigators have a hard time believing the stalkers can control cell phones without touching them and suspect an elaborate hoax. Complaints to their phone companies do no good – the families say they’ve been told what the stalkers are doing is impossible
posted by daninnj
on Jun 29, 2007 -
Use the badly named Tglo
to call any phone in the USA for free, and to SMS anyone in the world (maybe) for free.
posted by riotgrrl69
on Aug 6, 2006 -
The End of the Internet?
"The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online."
posted by allkindsoftime
on Feb 4, 2006 -
Psst... I know you called your girlfriend last night. No, not the one you live with. The naughty hottie that she doesn't know about. I know this because I paid a website
$110 to buy your cell-phone records, which they delivered in two hours. Did you know that your private phone records are for sale?
posted by digaman
on Jan 7, 2006 -