Thomas Edison is popularly credited with initiating the practice of saying “Hello” when answering the telephone. His rival Alexander Graham Bell preferred “Ahoy” (as used on ships) as a phone greeting and used it for the rest of his life. The first phone book, published in 1878, instructed users to begin conversations with “a firm and cheery ‘Hulloa.’ ” (To end conversations, it recommended “That is all.”) By 1889 telephone-exchange operators were known as “hello girls.”