Saturday, December 30, 2006

I.A.Q: Infrequently Asked Questions

We received an interesting and unique question recently - one of our patrons wanted to know when coiled cords were first used with telephones. We looked in our Famous First Facts reference book, but to no avail - apparently it was not famous enough and they couldn't be bothered with it. A couple librarians joined the search, which next took us to the encyclopedias. Based on a series of photographs of antique phones, we determined that it was probably a date around 1950, as this is when the coil replaced the smooth cord in the pictures. You can see that this wasn't necessarily definitive, and an Internet search yielded only bizarre and seemingly unrelated tidbits of information. For instance, the 1950ish date stood up partly due to this alien autopsy debunking article - which pointed out that the footage could not have been filmed in the 40s because the coiled telephone cord seen in the background was not yet invented. Fair enough! Anyway, I believe I've stumbled on the answer, which is provided in this patent for a retractile cord and method of making retractile cords. It was filed in 1947 and finally issued in 1951. So...in conclusion...thereabouts.

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