18th March 2024

Teledexes (telephone indexes)

Carol is packing up. So many memories. So many items that were once commonplace but are now obsolete (Or nearly so. I just noticed teledexes are still for sale!)

I’ve seen it claimed that teledexes and rolodexes  were marketted in the 1950s, but that is incorrect. They were advertised in Australia as early as 1907. They were a way of organising all your contact telephone numbers alphabetically, with a quick selection by sliding the button to the relevant letter then pushing the opening tab. In the 1990s business phones were introduced that incorporated a teledex function amongst other features.  No need now with mobile phones! Unless of course your phone dies and your back-up didn’t work …

Coolamon-Ganmain Farmers’ Review (NSW), 19th July 1907 page 12.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 28th November 1940 page 4.

The Land (Sydney), 20th December 1940 page 20.

Searching in Trove ( https://trove.nla.gov.au) I found new articles involving teledexes. In 1951 a Federal minister complained he had been refused an application to purchase a teledex for his Adelaide office, which he thought was ridiculous in light of the fact that in Adelaide the government kept a pool of 80 cars and 22 drivers. In 1991 a secretary of a jailed businessman was cross-examined on how she tried to cover up links between her boss and a politician he had tried to bribe. She had burnt several phone messages about the bribe and ripped a page out of the teledex that contained the contact number of a person involved, before replacing the page.

AS this story comes from the Australian Jewish Times I am free of the charge of racial sterotyping:

Australian Jewish Times (Melbourne), 16th December 1988 page 56.

Now for something strange: From the Women’s Weekly issue 6th November 1968. A desk set to crochet for a teenager, including a teledex cover.

“These pleasant presents will encourage teenage tidiness.”

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