Back in the days of telephones that were plugged into walls and telephone directories which were multi-volume printed affairs, each time the new London telephone book* came out there was a few moments of fun to be had looking at the start of the As to see what unusual names people had adopted in an attempt to appear right up front.
Mr Aaron-Aardvark was always my favourite.
Such naming tricks were also popular for some businesses, especially minicabs where the Yellow Pages used to be stuffed full of AAA1 Minicabs and the like.
It was search optimisation before there were search engines.It was also a field in which Steve Jobs’s genius was at work. Why was Apple named Apple? As Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs reveals, one reason was to be ahead of Atari in the phone book.
That makes this another good example of how, for all the technological newness of the digital world, the underlying principles and tactics are often rather familiar. After all, even the Romans have a thing or two to teach us about social media.
* I assume this was true of other phone books too, but it’s only the London ones I used to read. There was a limit to my interest in phone books, honest.