The History of Caller ID: The Forgotten Origins

Whether at home or on the road the telephone is one of the most indispensable items people have in the modern day. It is common in this day and age to simply look down at your phone and it will simply tell you who is calling. Caller ID is a basic service on all but the most primitive cell phones, and while home phones often time charge for the service, its’ utility easily makes up for the small service charges.


Many people today can scarcely recall what it was like before you could screen your calls with a simple glance, and while caller ID is now common, there was a time when it was cutting edge technology. A Greek communication engineer named Theodore Paraskevakos is credited with the development of the method behind caller Ids operation.


For the next decade Paraskevakos, as well as several other notable inventors would continue to work on perfecting the caller identification device. The first market trials for caller ID were held in 1984 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by Bell Atlantic Company. The middle of the year saw trial testing done by Bell South as well. The company was seeking to understand the potential for revenue behind the technology. Companies would continue to market the product throughout the 1980’s and early into the 1990’s before an updated type of caller ID appeared.


In 1995 the world would be introduced to call waiting id which would further upgrade peoples ability to monitor their calls, by allowing the recipient of a call to see who was call while they were already on the phone. Some of these options that were added to this were an option to place either call on hold, send an incoming call to your voice mail or answering machine, or even add the new caller in a three way call.


This technology has been indispensable when avoiding telemarketers, harassing bill collectors, and prank phone calls. It allows people to keep track of the calls they missed while busy in an initial conversation, and for many people the feature alone nearly replace a standard call list, depending on the use of the phone.


Caller ID has overall been a reliable technology, though at times when a number is coming in from a roaming phone, or an out of country call the recipient will often times get a message saying “Unknown caller”, or “unavailable”. Many bill collectors, and prankster will also use a call command that will block the caller id and show them simply as “unknown”, however telemarketers are required to allow a visible number, as approved by courts in 2004. Also, different countries often use separate standards for the transmission of caller data. This can cause the caller id on phones purchased in other countries to fail.


Virtually all telephone companies offer a call blocking command, so that you can call without your information being transmitted, however many companies also offer an option to automatically refuse, or redirect blocked numbers. Police and emergency service personnel can also override a blocked number, this helps prevent people who would use the blocking command to harass or threaten people.


All in all caller ID has come a long way from its’ origins, and is now a staple of everyday life, used by practically everyone, and left forgotten is the long history behind it.