Monday, August 13, 2007

How Our Man Elli got those numbers...

I just saw this, thought you'd like it, says Our Man Elli In Israel:

Jack Cole, a businessman who used early computer technology to sort the world-- or at least millions of the people in it-- by street address, creating a series of reverse directories that remain invaluable to detectives, debt collectors, telemarketers and anyone who needs to find someone, died on July 29 at his home in Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota.

He was 87...

If you ever worked in a newsroom, as we did in more than one with Elli, long before the Internet in the what we never realized were the last good old days of news, the Cole Directories were invaluable resources. The big books would match street addresses with names and phone numbers, which allowed reporters and producers to phone, let's say, the next door neighbor of a murder victim-- or, in Elli's case, phone the site of a hostage standoff and speak directly to the hostage taker.

But Elli puts it best in an email just minutes ago:

A reporter on the trail of an ax murderer could phone the family next door to be told, “He was always such a quiet boy.”

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