The First Recorded Evidence Of A Prank Phone Call: 1884 Phone Calls Summoning Undertakers

from the i'm-not-dead-yet dept

This is kind of awesome. Paul Collins, know as The Literary Detective, recently noted that he had unearthed what he believed might be the first recorded evidence of a prank phone call… made in 1884. Here’s the newspaper report:

If you can’t read it, the important part says:

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.

Ah, the kids those days…

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Comments on “The First Recorded Evidence Of A Prank Phone Call: 1884 Phone Calls Summoning Undertakers”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Granted, though, I could have worded it better. I should have said that “trolls complain if articles are about copyright, and trolls complain if articles aren’t about copyright”.

However, I am quite chuffed to see that what a Freetardo could manage, a troll could not. Surely, a person’s standards can’t be particularly high if even a Freetardo can accomplish what he cannot.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m personally offended by how much Masnick misrepresents, manipulates, and out-right lies here.

I take that personally.

That’s… actually kind of sad. You sit at home reading this blog, and whenever you see something you don’t like, you take it as a personal slight against you? You believe that Mike as you, specifically, in mind when he writes these posts? That is definitely a diagnosable psychological condition. I hope you find the help you need.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m sure Masnick’s wife and infant appreciate the time spent away from them while he scours the internet looking for random examples of copyright being the devil’s handiwork.

I’ve read a lot of stuff on the internet that has pissed me off, but never to the point where I thought I should drag the writer’s family into it, much less try to use them as some sort of leverage (towards what end?) against the writer.

And as many times as I’ve read something that has pissed me off, nothing has made we want to instantly reach through the screen and punch the writer in the mouth. Until now.

This has all the malevolent ugliness of a mob enforcer commenting of someone’s “nice family” while leaving the implicit violence hanging heavily in the air.

This sort of comment exposes you for what you are: a hate-filled individual who can’t be bothered to attack the writing or even the writer himself at this point and has decided to just vent whatever bile happens to be floating on the top of that brain stem operation you mistakenly call your “intellect.”

Worse, you’ve damaged the future comments of any other AC’s who disagree with what’s written here. Because of the lack of identifying info, ANY AC could be the one who decided Mike’s family should be dragged into the “debate,” and because there’s no way to differentiate, many AC’s arguments will be dismissed more quickly and with more vitriol.

Maybe you’re the same AC who insinuated that I spend all day at home doing useless writing while my wife makes all the money. Maybe not. Who can tell? That’s a problem. And your fellow dissenting ACs can thank you for making their future comments that much easier to dismiss.You’re also not doing any favors for your side of the argument in general. I’m sure they’re not happy to have to count you as part of their team.

I’m personally offended by how much Masnick misrepresents, manipulates, and out-right lies here.

I take that personally.

So be it. But keep it personal. Someone’s family is not a natural extension of their website.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You’re right. I hate you, I hate Masnick, and I hate anyone that rips off artists.

I’ve never “ripped” off an artist. So why do you “hate” me?

I’m really curious about this. I spend an awful lot of time here trying to help artists, showing them what’s working, what’s not working, etc. Why should that lead you to hate me?

Did you hate all of your teachers in school, too?

Very happy to admit that. We are war with you slimeballs.

Hmm. What makes me a slimeball? Trying to figure out ways to help you make more money makes me a slimeball? How so?

You won’t believe me, but I really would like to work with you and see if I can help you, because clearly you’re pretty damn upset about how the internet has changed your business. I’m pretty sure I can help. But it’s gotta start with you not “hating” me, and maybe listening to what I’m saying.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Wtf is wrong with you, why are you nice to this psycho. He just threatened your family for crying out load. If there was ever a time to overreact its now. Fucking backtrace the punk and call the police.

He didn’t threaten my family. Just made a silly, uninformed comment about them.

As for why I’d be nice to him… well, he seems unfortunately misinformed. I’m of the belief that the best way to respond to the misinformed is to educate them.

known coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2011 @ 10:10am

oops, the po didn’t format it seems.

= = ==

po usually does not format very well indeed.

as to the fellow who has to bring Mr. Masnick’s family into this, please stop giving us cowards a bad name, and get the psychological help you obviously need. The world will be a better place if you do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

we all know you make millions sitting in your cushy office threatening, harassing and extorting from your fellow citizens, but some people actually have to work for a living

besides do you really think he needs to spend a whole lot of time finding examples of blatant asshattery coming from your entertainment industry?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Michael “Mike” Masnick (born December 8,[1] 1974) is the CEO and founder of Techdirt, a weblog that focuses on technology news and tech-related issues. Masnick is also the founder and CEO of the company Floor64[2] and a contributor at BusinessWeek’s Business Exchange.[3]

Before founding Floor64, Masnick worked in business development and marketing at Release Software, an e-commerce startup, and in marketing at Intel. He has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations and an MBA, both from Cornell University.

Read that again fuckwad:
He has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations and an MBA, both from Cornell University.

Im sure his wife, and as soon as his child get old enough to realize, will be pleanty proud of him.

No mutherfucker, I dont want fries with that, now get me my fucking burger.

Anonymous Coward says:

Though pre-phone, one of the most famous pranks in history was similar – when Theodore Hook made a bet that he could turn a random, unremarkable house into the most famous address in London:

On 27 November, at five o?clock in the morning, a sweep arrived to sweep the chimneys of Mrs Tottenham’s house. The maid who answered the door informed him that no sweep had been requested, and that his services were not required. A few moments later another sweep presented himself, then another, and another, 12 in all. After the last of the sweeps had been sent away, a fleet of carts carrying large deliveries of coal began to arrive, followed by a series of cakemakers delivering large wedding cakes, then doctors, lawyers, vicars and priests summoned to minister to someone in the house they had been told was dying. Fishmongers, shoemakers, and over a dozen pianos were among the next to appear, along with “six stout men bearing an organ”. Dignitaries, including the Governor of the Bank of England, the Duke of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Mayor of the City of London also arrived. The narrow streets soon became severely congested with tradesmen and onlookers. Deliveries and visits continued until the early evening, bringing a large part of London to a standstill. Hook stationed himself in the house directly opposite 54 Berners Street, from where he and his friend spent the day watching the chaos unfold.

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