Is Your Refrigerator Running? No, We Don’t Have Those Yet

You would likely never have guessed it, but I have been known to make a prank call or two in my day. Shocking, I know. So when I ran acrossthis piece about the earliest varifyable telephone prank, I knew I had to post it. this place is, after all, still all about us and the stuff we’re interested in…right? Guys? come back!

If you asked me to guess when this call was made, I’d have probably said 1920, give or take a couple of years. And I would have been way off, as it turns out. Amazingly, the answer is 1884, just 8 years after the world’s first legitimate phone call.

Proof of this comes from the Feb. 2, 1884 edition of a publication called The Electrical World, which relates the story of calls being made to undertakers in Road Island.

“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 denoument was highly farcical, and the reputed corpses are now hunting in a lively manner for that telephonist.”

19th century writing is fantastically amazing, in case you’ve never noticed.

I wonder if they ever caught the guy. You wouldn’t think it would be very hard due to how new telephone technology was, but stranger things have happened.

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