In the telephones' earliest days, you really had no way to know who was calling except to pickup the receiver and await the voice at the other end.
It didn't take long for people to wish for some way to know who was calling before you find yourself engaged in a (potentially unwanted) conversation with them.
Maybe if you fancied yourself crafty and picked up the receiver in the hopes of identifying the caller before you said anything, but otherwise unless you had some kind of answering service you were more or less sure to remain clueless as to whose calling.
A Somewhat Antisocial Truth
Ideally, every time the phone rings I'd be excited to pick it up and socialise with whatever thoughtful person took the time out of their day to call me up. But actually, half the time when my phone is ringing I really wish it wasn't.
Calls can come at inconvenient times from inconvenient sources. I love my Mum, but when she calls right as things are going brilliantly on that third date, I really don't want to hear about the dead rat her cat Snickerdoodle brought home. Equally, if I'm at dinner with Mum, I don't want to hear from telemarketers or work colleagues.
It is reasons like these that caller display was pioneered.
After the introduction of the answering machine, call screening became a common practice among some privacy concerned or particularly misanthropic individuals – letting the answering machine pick up while the recipient of the call listens diligently for whose on the line, deciding only after they have discerned their identity if they want to take the call.
This method was more than a little cumbersome, and the desire for a means to easily screen calls was eventually met in a major way all across the market in the form of caller display.
Knowing who is calling not only gives discretion over if you take the call or not, it also gives you the ability to be better prepared for the call before you ever pickup the phone.
If my boss is calling, I might want to turn off the TV and grab a pen and paper, but if its just my old university chums calling up to make a few jokes at my expense, there is no need to get so prepared. Allowing you to make decisions more effectively and quickly, it provides you with a small detail that can make all the difference.
Since I'm a pretty busy guy, its important for me to keep up with incoming calls. But if I'm already on a business call, and another call is incoming, what do I do? Is it important enough to put the person I'm talking to on hold, or can they just leave a message?
This question is more or less impossible to answer in a world pre-caller display (a scary world indeed.)
Enjoy It Yourself!
If you don't already have caller display services (unless you're a retro fanatic), it is time to step into the modern world! Purchase a phone with caller display and contact your telecom provider if additional services are required.