History of Rolodex

Rola Staff
January 2022

Written by Cedric Paige

Before cell phones and digital contact lists, Twitter followers and Snapchat streaks, Facebook friends and email addresses, there existed a stroke of innovation called the Rolodex.

Conceived by Hildaur Neilson in 1956 and short for Rolling Index, the Rolodex was the domicile of all the contact information you had for co-workers, family, friends, and new contacts. If you are reading this and are under 30, picture a rolling wheel of business cards sorted in alphabetical order. Keeping track of everyone you met took a lot more effort than clicking a button on the internet.

Before the conception of the Rolodex, what was the best way to organize your contact information? Business cards in a shoebox or a desk drawer? Associate's info in an address book? Heh, primitive beings. The Rolodex quickly became a revolutionary and efficient method of staying in touch.

Rolodexes soon took their place among everyday office equipment, right next to the stapler and sticky notes. Rolodexes at some companies became so valuable that organizations had to begin claiming them as intellectual property because employees would steal them and sell their contents to competitors. There was one incident where a Rolodex was even held hostage for a multi-million-dollar ransom. Don’t believe me? Look at this! It's crazy, right??

Many have found the Rolodex impactful in legal ways as well. David Rockefeller – a man with unlimited wealth and influence he could buy Europe – is credited with having the largest ‘Rolodex’ ever. Legend says he had more than 200,000 contacts from around the world. It seemed that everyone was using the Rolodex, from the general manager at a McDonald’s, to the world’s richest and most powerful man.

For 50 years, the Rolodex changed the way the world connected.  The way the world is connected is changing, however. Remember the first law of thermodynamics? “Energy cannot be created nor destroyed in an isolated system.” The same concept is true for innovation. “Send a raven” became “DM me,” Horses became pick-up trucks, and the Rolodex became…. well, the Roladex.

The Roladex will revolutionize the way we make connections. It’ll close the gap between friends and acquaintances. Making and maintaining relationships will become effortless. We plan on being around for much longer than half a century. With an aesthetic design and a team full of attractive, hardworking geniuses, Rola’s Roladex will do everything its predecessor did…and more.

Learning from the past and incorporating the same ideas Neilson conceived when he crafted the original rolodex, we can use them today with Rola. Our app will change the way you connect for the better, as we provide our users with the best platform for quick connection moving forward.