San Francisco, 1981: It was actually because of Lonesome Cowboy Tim.
There was a phone number, and when you called it was answered by Lonesome Cowboy Tim, saying “Howdy, Buckaroos!” and then he’d recount some adventure that he and the prairie critters had experienced recently.
Since it was a single line on an answering machine, after some weeks you’d find the line always busy. Then the number would be changed, and you’d have to somehow find it again. This was a challenge, because it was purely word of mouth, yet somehow we always found Lonesome Cowboy Tim.
When Network started up the Third Ear Telepathic Answering Service, we’d not intended to have a phone number at all, since the answering service was telepathic, but the phonebook rep insisted we had to list a phone number.
So I set up an answering machine with Ruru the Guru. Here’s what it said …
“Hello! And thank you for calling Third Ear Telepathic Answering Service. I am your host and operator, Ruru the Guru, speaking to you direct from our Himalaya Hideaway.
“You know, many people have telepathed in recently, asking me, ‘Ruru, just how does one leave a message for Third Ear Telepathic Answering Service?’
“Well, it’s very simple. It’s just like using a telephone. You just lift your little mental receiver, and you listen for your mental dial-tone …
“Then you just mentally dial my number — 426 299737 19937 49972 29973 299 503 — and then I’ll answer, any time, any place. Then you just leave your a mental message for anybody, whether you know them or not, and I’ll deliver it right inside their head, immediately!
“Just remember: it’s mental.”