We now know that it took no more than eight years following the invention of the telephone for people to realize the comedic potential of playing practical jokes via landline.
Paul Collins, aka "The Literary Detective," claims to have discovered what he believes to be the first recorded evidence of a prank phone call in a newspaper printed in 1884. We've included a copy of the report below, but here's a transcript in case you have any trouble reading it:
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.
Is anyone else as pleased as I am to learn that people have been crank-calling one another for almost as long as we've had phones? On another note, I'm thinking of starting a band called "The Malicious Wags." Who's with me?
[Spotted on techdirt]