The History Of Robocalls

There were more than 48 billion robocalls across the country in 2018, a nearly 50% increase from the previous year, continuing a frustrating practice that’s endured for decades. The Onion looks back at the history of robocalls.


1853:

Telegraphs begin receiving the first robocalls, random bursts of electrical impulse caused by moles chewing through wires underground.

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1876:

Alexander Graham Bell claims to be from the IRS and tells his assistant Watson that he owes $50,000 in back taxes that must be paid immediately.


1934:

Creation of the Federal Communications Commission establishes agency dedicated to ignoring telecommunications regulations.

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1968:

Invention of Caller ID finally enables people to differentiate between calls from robots they don’t want to answer and calls from family members they don’t want to answer.

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1991:

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act creates the Do Not Call Registry, which allows residents to prevent telemarketers from calling them for the next 30 seconds.

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1994:

Dad goes nuts on robocaller who called twice during dinner.


2000:

Spam email picks up the slack.


2019:

Estimated 25 million Americans miss out on life-changing job opportunity by declining to answer call from unidentified Billings, Montana number.

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