Desk-Size Facsimile Machine (Jun, 1952)

Desk-Size Facsimile Machine

Smaller than a typewriter, a miniature self-contained telegraph “office” provides the executive with 24-hour telegram service. Telegrams are sent and received simply by pushing a button. They don’t even have to be typewritten. You simply write out the message on a blank, wrap the blank around the drum of the machine and turn it on. A scanner views the message and sends it to the addressee where an exact copy is reproduced by an identical machine. Transmission time of about 2-1/2 minutes is required to handle a full message. The call is routed through the main office of Western Union, which directs the message to its destination and bills the sender.

1 comment
  1. Mike Brown says: February 13, 20137:23 am

    These machines were phased out by Western Union in the early 1970’s, and many ham radio operators picked them up for next to nothing. The local WU franchise operators (many florists and drug stores had deskfax machines) were happy to give away their stock of blank paper, so supplies weren’t much of an issue. You just hooked up the machine to the speaker output of your receiver and the microphone input of your transmitter (not a problem with the WWII surplus 2M AM transmitters we were using then), and you were ready to go. The wired WU system had the receiving central office sending synchronization pulses back down the line to keep the sending and receiving units in synch, but that was obviously impossible over the air. Instead, you’d load up your original on the drum, do a countdown, and hit the “send” button. The hams on the receiving end would hit “receive” when you said “GO”, and hopefully everything would work fine. The fax picture was never quite aligned with the paper, but scissors and tape fixed that problem. The fax paper was electrically conductive and a fine wire literally burned the image on the page by varying the current, so if you tuned the volume control on your receiver for just the right amount of smoke, the image wasn’t half bad.

    Those were the days!

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