UnNews:New Device Sends Copies of Documents Over Telegraph Lines
22 June 2006
BOSTON, Mass. -- A new electromechanical device designed to transmit likenesses of documents via telegraph wires was unveiled yesterday, by Prof. Hobart Greenly, at the Boston Scientific Telephony Conference.
The device, which is called a "Döppel-Transmitter," is attached in serial to standard telegraph lines, and utilizes a complex series of prisms and clockwork mechanisms to determine areas of lightness and darkness on a printed or hand-written page. The diverse areas are then translated into a series of numerical codes which are keyed automatically at high velocities onto the telegraph. A complementary device on the receiving end of the transmission then translates the codes to corresponding blocks of type of thirty-six shades of gray, which are mechanically type-set and printed. The document thusly produced is a practical duplicate of the original, which is preserved for reference unharmed at the transmission source.
Greenly, rightly proud of his achievement, foresees numerous practical applications for such a device in manufacturing and shipping industries. "Invoices and shipping lists requiring rigorous cross-checks can be easily compared, regardless of the intervening distance," Greenly exlaimed. The use of the machine for military purposes was also not overlooked by the cunning inventor. "Battle plans and maps can be exchanged between army generals and their lieutenants in the field, allowing commands to be quickly and accurately communicated."
The device, while hailed by most as a noteworthy advancement in telegraphic communication, was not without its detractors, however. Dr. Warrington Bell, of the Boston Technological College, derided the machine as a curious novelty, likely to create more problems than are solved. "Without the requirement of personal contact, the opportunities for fraud and mischief with this machine are numerous," explained Bell. "The identity of the originator can be easily obfuscated, rendering it impossible to tell if the transmission was from the purported sender, or Moses!"
Bell also warned that the device could produce a deluge of un-necessary and unverifiable information, of which it would be impossible to keep abreast. His dire predictions included office-workers literally buried under piles of duplicated documents, many of them unwanted advertisements for methods to enlarge one's penile member.
Greenly's device will be on display at the Conference until the week's end.
- Samuel Clemens "Document Duplicates Over Telegraph." The New York Guardian-Post, June 22, 1869
- Morris Winchester "Greenly Invention Sends Paper Through Wire." The Boston Herald, June 22, 1869