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Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 11:31:06 -0800 (PST)
From: Guitry@aol.com
Dead medium: Telautograph
Source(s): Personal experience. The author, Guitry@aol.com, was an employee of Telautograph from 1967 to 1983, when then were sold to Danka.

For a a long time Telautograph had the handwriter messaging market to itself.

In the late 50's however Comptometer introduced the Electrowriter which offered a compact system, especially a transceiver (transmit/receive in one box), which directly challenged Telautograph's cumbersome large units. Telautograph came back with a two piece unit using liquid ink (Model DE). Later Telautograph introduced a ball point system, allowing duplicate copies at the receive end which Electrowriter with its liquid ink could not match. However the two systems continued to compete fiercely in the market place and also in recruiting each others personnel. The primary market for both was hospitals and clinics. The ability to simultaneously inform multi departments of discharges, diet changes, and patient "expirations" made the units a sine qua non for all hospitals with over 300 beds.

The Air Force used the unit for weather dissemination to squadrons (weather symbols not available on keyboards). Security systems in prisons when visitors could not be verbally announced. Parking garages to retrieve automobliles was another lucarative markets. Hotels of course was the basic applications (Housekeeping to front desk and back to advise of "ready" rooms) which really gave handwriters their impetus in the early 1900's continuing until well into the 1980's.

Most of the units for both companies were rented, thus creating a substantial cash flow especially since the units were on long term automatically renewing leases. Eventually Electowriter (later known as Info Link) was purchased by a lone individual who milked the revenue base until it dissapeared. Telautograph continued with variations of its units which could actually send messages on the telehone lines, but that application never really took off. The installed base of Telautograph units eventually dwindled to nothing, but if you were to talk to an old time Head of Housekeeping in major hotels, you would get a nostalgic sigh expressing a yearning for the units' superiority to the computer....

Telautograph's history in the facsmile market is another fascinating bit of history....

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