On June 1, 1926, the first Italian telephone directory was printed. He was not the first ever, he was the first Italian. In the nineteenth century there were several on a local basis. According to various sources, the first telephone directory in the world was published on February 21, 1878: a sheet measuring 14×21 centimeters with the names of 50 people. They were the subscribers to the first telephone exchange in history. It was New Haven, Connecticut that set the record. This list consisted of only one page. In 1880, the first list of the city of Zurich had 98 names. The newborn telephone was obviously a privilege for the few. In TIM’s historical archive, the oldest dates back to 1887 relating to the city of Livorno.
What happened then in Italy on June 1, 1926? In Italy at the time there were several directories and several telephone companies, divided on a territorial basis. In order to bring order, a law was passed in 1925 which identified five telephone dealerships. The most important of these, STIPEL, which covered Piedmont and Lombardy, had founded SEAT, entrusting it with the rights to publish telephone directories; this was done in Italy by FIDAT, the federation of telephone subscribers, founded in Milan in 1921 which had in turn promoted a cooperative to publish the first official Italian telephone directory. The result was a dispute that ended with the issue of a Ministerial Decree of 19 October 1926 (in the Official Gazette No. 10 of 14/1/1927) which assigned the exclusivity of those publications to telephone dealerships only.
In short, on June 1, 1926, SEAT – an anonymous company Official directories for telephone subscribers – published its first telephone directory organized into three distinct directories: one sorted by number, one sorted alphabetically by subscriber and one sorted by address. In the following decades, SEAT became the publisher of all Italian telephone directories (blank pages, for private subscribers, and the famous, very useful, yellow pages, for businesses). Until recently, the arrival of the new telephone directory at home every year was a ritual. But with the Internet and the spread of smartphones, telephone directories have almost disappeared from our lives. And SEAT has also changed its skin: for some years it has no longer been part of the Telecom Italia group: it has been incorporated into Italiaonline, a company that has made the history of the web in Italy.
The telephone book, as an object, has always held a great deal of fascination among geeks, technology enthusiasts. In 2010 Gianluca Neri, founder of the Macchianera blog and creator of numerous projects related to the web, has published (first in installments on Facebook and then in paper format), a funny book on the future entitled “The great telephone directory of the Earth and neighboring planets”.