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Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 18:58:25 -0800 (PST)
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 11:50:17 -0800 (PST)
From: bruces@well.com Bruce Sterling
Dead medium: Hotel Annunciator
Source(s): SIDEWALKS OF AMERICA, edited by B. A. Botkin, Bobbs-Merrill Com., 1954, pages 246-247.

B. A. Botkin is further quoting from a book called VALENTINE'S MANUAL OF OLD NEW YORK, 1926, edited by Henry Collins Brown, published by Valentine's Manual Inc., pages 96-98.

"Before the days of the telephone, hotels had annunciator boards to indicate the room number of a guest calling up the office for service. Then, later, in the Eighties, some one invented a machine to do away with fifty percent of the toil involved in a journey to find out what was wanted and a later journey in supplying it. The machine was in use of most of the hotels of the early Nineties.

"In each room of the hotel was a dial with a movable arrow like a clock hand. On the dial was printed the names of everything a guest would be at all likely to want == all the drinks that were ever heard of, paper, envelopes, telegraph blanks, 'help,' a doctor, police, chambermaid, messenger boy, eggs, toast, mils, soup, oysters, breakfast, dinner, tea == in fact every eatable in common demand, a city directory, playing cards, cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, a barber; in short, everything in a list of one hundred to one hundred and fifty necessaries."

(((bruces remarks: my dead-media bogometer is ticking over here == a hotel-room clock-dial with 150 separate divisions? Including "oysters" and a galaxy of turn-of-the-century cocktails? The "telegraph blanks" are especially touching == dead media for dead media.)))

"The guest pointed the arrow to the name of whatever he wanted and by pressing a button registered his demand on the dial behind the clerk's desk.

"It was discovered, however, that notwithstanding the wide compass of the dial there was always something a guest wanted that did not appear on its catalogue. Then again the dial was prone to get out of order and a guest calling for ice wate was on occasion surprised with a service of hot tea. The dials were not long in use before they were superseded by the telephone."

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