On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
QUITE APART from many young people seemingly not knowing how to do long division in any sensible way, they’ve also been known to ask things like “How does a dial phone work?” or “Why say ‘roll up’ the car window?” or “What’s a telex, Grandpa?”
To see phone dialing in action, stream the classic 1948 movie Sorry, Wrong Number. Briefly, it’s about an invalid woman who overhears a crossed telephone conversation about a murder plot. And guess who’s the victim?
One picture being worth a thousand words, look immediately below to answer the window “rolling” question.
An engineering factoid: Electric window lifts save weight and minimize packaging hassles compared with the classic mechanism. Lotus made this point when it swapped window cranks for buttons.
This leaves “What’s a telex, Grandpa?” and takes me back to days before the Internet.
The earliest computers were stand-alone devices, often taking up entire rooms. They performed what was called “batch processing,” in which you gave the operator a stack of punch cards describing your task and data. If you were lucky (and didn’t make a programming error punching a card), you received the results, maybe, in a couple of hours or days.
The next phase was “time-sharing” on an individual computer. Each user communicated with the computer via a telex aka teleprinter, a gizmo that looked like a big elaborate typewriter.
Typewriter? A “typewriter,” ma petite, was a clattery mechanical keyboard with built-in printer.
As recently as 1983 (well, it seems recent to me), I used a telex in a Professional Management Program run by CBS, which owned R&T at the time.
The program, highly innovative at the time, had banks of telex machines running computer simulations of business challenges.
Pre-Internet, a telex machine was also one way of arranging foreign hotel accommodations. It was less costly than international phone conversations. And, unlike a telephone call, it wasn’t time-zone sensitive. My early R&T files contain telex numbers of favorite European and Japanese hotels.
Through the 1980s, fax machines replaced telex communications. And, in time, the Internet put paid to a lot of this excess hardware.
But I’m glad you asked, mon enfant. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018