Information about the history of yellow pages phone directories is available at Inventors.About.com. Wikipedia.org provides more comprehensive information about the history and use of the yellow pages.
Reuben H. Donnelly is the inventor of the yellow pages. In 1883 while printing a telephone directory in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the printer ran out of white paper and substituted yellow, rather than waiting weeks for a new shipment.
In 1886 he published the first yellow pages directory, which included categories for type of service, business name and phone number. As early as 1906, coupons began to appear in the directory, offering businesses new ways to attract customers. Categorizing businesses also made it easier to connect consumers with necessary services and products.