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Dead medium: Radio Facsimile Transmitter
From: From:
kadrey@well.com (Richard Kadrey)
Source(s): Tim Onosko, *Wasn't the Future Wonderful?,* Dutton (pp. 92-93); reprint of article from Modern Mechanix, May 1938

(((Note how much of the hype in this 1938 article mirrors what we hear today about the Web. == R.K.)))

"Your Newspaper By Radio!

"A private newspaper with any spot in your home as the press room, the world's best editors and reporters on your staff, and the radio as your copy boy == this is not the dream of Jules Verne == but an actual accomplishment, available today to anyone in the United States owning an ordinary radio receiver.

"No thundering press will deafen you when your paper is printed, but instead, equipment contained in a small attractive box, will silently print your 'latest edition' while you sleep, completing it in time for breakfast.

"Facsimile transmitters have been announced by two manufacturers, Finch Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc., of New York City, and RCA Victor, of Camden, N.J.

"Predicted to be in wide-spread use within the year, many large broadcast stations have started tests with the system, and actual broadcasts on a definite schedule will be an accomplished fact as soon as these test are completed. Of great significance is the fact that the Federal Communications Commission has granted broadcasters permission to operate the facsimile equipment on the regular broadcast frequencies.

"Translated into actual use, this means that when the householder is through listening to his favorite station, he merely turns a switch which will, at the correct time, again turn on the radio for reception of the same station, but this time instead of sounds emitting from the loudspeaker, an up-to-the-minute newspaper will unfold.

"At present one of the largest eastern broadcast stations, WOR, is supplying this type of transmission, though not yet on a regular schedule. It is being done both on the regular broadcast channels as well as on the ultra-short waves. Plans are underway for regular service of facsimile transmissions early this spring.

"Along other stations that have received FCC permission to make facsimile broadcasts are WGN, Chicago; KSD, St. Louis; WHO, Des Moines; WGH, Norfolk, VA; WHK, Cleveland; KSTP, St. Paul; KMJ, Fresno, and KFPK, Sacramento.

"The facsimile recorder will be sold at a price no higher than the average good broadcast receiver. When production is increased the price is expected to be reduced to that of the average medium priced midget receiver. With the exception of the recorder, no special equipment is required except the broadcast receiver itself.

"This new medium of entertainment and education is not to be confused with television, differing most widely from it in that its operation produces tangible newspaper on which appears the printed word, photographs, drawings, sketches and even advertisement. As the newspaper is produced, it can be removed from the machine and preserved if desired, differing from the conventional type only in size.

"Briefly, the operation of the transmitter and recorder is as follows:

"The copy to be transmitted == whether it is pictures, news flashes, line drawings or comic strips == involves no special printing or preparation because the material itself can be inserted directly into the transmitter. An electric bulb, throwing a spot of light, moves back and forth across the copy top be transmitted. This action is similar to that of the human eye as it sweeps from left to right across a line of type.

"In its movement across the copy, the spot of light is reflected back into a light-sensitive photo-electric cell. When the scanning light strikes the white portions of the copy, it returns a full reflection to the light- sensitive cell. When it strikes a black area, no light is reflected, while for the shaded areas, a corresponding reflection is obtained.

"Because of the action of intermittent light at the cell, these reflections are changed into electrical energy or impulses. At the receiver or recorder, these impulses operate a stylus sweeping in synchronism with the scanning of the transmitter."

*********************************** Richard Kadrey ***********************************