Telephones were almost commonplace in 1905 Santa Rosa, with an average of about one phone for every ten residents. But that rapid expansion came at the cost of personal service; no longer could you ring the operator and ask for a connection to John Smith — now you had to use your “Hello Book” (what a great name for something as mundane as a telephone directory!) to first lookup his “number.”

It may seem a small thing today, but it was a bit of a milestone in the history of the way we use technology, being probably the first time that an individual was associated with such an abstract thing as a series of numbers.


Good Business is Now Assured — Growth of the Business in This District is Big

The new telephone directories have arrived and are being issued. This is indeed a comfort.

Santa Rosa now has 800 subscribers to the Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company and the very latest “central” equipments, and patrons are now assured good service. This, however, is on condition that the parties cooperate to make the service what it should be. With the 800 phones in use it is impossible for “central” to do good work or give any kind of service unless the “numbers” are called for instead of individuals. When only a few phones are used and one or two operators are employed to mention the name may be sufficient, but in such large offices to get a subscriber it is necessary for the party calling up to give the number wanted.

The “Sunset” now has 2,086 phones in Sonoma county, and about 3,000 in this district, which comprises Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake counties. There are 223,539 phones on the Pacific Coast, any of which may be connected with a Santa Rosa subscriber on short notice. Conversations were had last night from here to San Diego, Fresno, Portland and Vancouver, B. C., and in each instance the conversation was carried on almost as well as if the persons were living in Santa Rosa.

There are 2,086 phones in use in Sonoma county divided as follows: Santa Rosa, 800; Petaluma, 700; Healdsburg, 310; Sonoma, 64; Sebastopol, 64; Windsor, 42; Forestville, 26, scattering, 80.

Sebastopol has just had thirty-six phones added and Green Valley has contracts for 200. Next Tuesday subscribers here and at Sebastopol will have a special 15-cent rate as is the case to several of the county towns.

– Press Democrat, July 30, 1905

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