SAN FRANCISCO Inventor in the 1980s Developed an Anti-Viral Disposable Cover for Ma Bell’s Payphones The “Phone Mask”

May 6, 2024 ( PR Submission Site )

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Richard H. Davis, a visionary inventor and entrepreneur hailing from San Francisco, California, unveiled a groundbreaking innovation in the 1980s with his creation of an Anti-Viral Disposable Cover for Ma Bell’s Payphone headsets called the “Phone Mask”. Davis’ invention marked a significant advancement in telecommunications hygiene, providing a protective barrier against the transmission of germs and bacteria, particularly in shared public spaces.

Hygienic Phone Protection

The headset cover, crafted from antimicrobial plastic polymers, served to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew on the surface of telephones. Additionally, it featured an activated charcoal filter designed to absorb microbiome-derived toxins, with the potential to inactivate viruses, thereby offering users added peace of mind during phone usage. Davis’ foresight in addressing the potential transmission of diseases via public telephones echoes concerns that have persisted since the early 20th century.

As evidenced by the 1903 publication “Does the Public Telephone Transmit Disease?” The need for hygiene measures in telecommunications has been a longstanding issue, further highlighting the significance of Davis’ innovation. While the era of payphones has since given way to the ubiquity of smartphones and the widespread adoption of protective measures such as Anti-Viral 3M N95 disposable masks, Davis’ invention remains a testament to his dedication to public health and innovation.

Inventor’s Dedication

Despite its eventual obsolescence, Davis invested considerable time and effort into developing both the product and its retail packaging, recognizing the importance of mitigating the spread of cold and flu viruses in public spaces. American inventor William Gray (1850-1903) is credited with inventing the coin-operated payphone in 1889. The first payphone was installed in a Hartford, Connecticut bank and was the first machine to collect payment for a call without an attendant.

Gray was inspired to create the payphone after being unable to use a local business’s phone to call a doctor for his sick wife. At the time, owning a phone required paying a high monthly fee, so only wealthy people could afford one. 2001: A Space Odyssey Predicted the Future – In the 1968 movie, Dr. Heywood Floyd makes a video call to his daughter on her birthday using a toll booth Picturephone. The call costs $1.70, and Kubrick’s daughter Vivian acts as the little girl on the other end.


As we reflect on the evolution of telecommunications and hygiene practices, Richard H. Davis' Anti-Viral Disposable Cover stands as a reminder of the ingenuity and forward-thinking spirit that continues to drive progress in technology and public health.

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