Design moment: Rolodex, 1956

Individual contacts are written on small white index cards which rotate around a spindle

 

It was reading Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries that reminded me of the Rolodex. Her fascinating chronicle of how she took Manhattan, turning around first Vanity Fair magazine and then The New Yorker, reads like a time capsule unpacked. Set in the 1980s, it was a pre-electronic age – no mobile phones or emails - and when having a contacts-packed Rolodex was a valuable commodity in a new hire – a fact she mentions more than once. They are still for sale but it’s hard to imagine anyone having a Rolodex anymore – too unwieldy especially for hot-desking media workers, and when all your contacts are in your phone or the cloud. The rolling address book was designed by Hildaur Neilsen, a Danish engineer and US inventor and former journalist Arnold Neustadter working for US stationery firm Zepher American. Individual contacts are written on small white index cards which rotate around a spindle. Tabs marked A-Z make the cards easy to find. The ruthless beauty is that a contact’s card can be easily discarded when no longer of any use. Neustadter began working on the concept for the Rolodex in the late 1940s and it came to market in 1956. The name has now become a generic for any cylindrical rotating card file.  

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.