NOTHING.NEW under the sun

Still thinking about trite non-info vs new info…

American Radio Library has added a section for the Western Union tech journal.

Trite: I’ve said this a hundred times. The HTML web is just the latest and NOT the greatest incarnation of data webs. Formalized data webs started with Chappe’s mechanical semaphores, then the electrical telegraph gradually evolved. Transferring pictures and 3d patterns was possible in 1848.

By the 1930s Western Union was routinely carrying pictures and data and voice, multiplexed on the same wires and the same radio channels. WU was using microwaves in 1950. The only real difference between 1950 WU and the modern setup is that WU didn’t offer retail services; it was expensive and mainly business-to-business. A few rich people had their own WU installations.

No retail? What about telegrams? By the 1950s telegrams were a sideline, really a gimmick. The day job of EVERY data web, from Chappe to WU to Compuserve to AWS, is stock transactions and government commands.

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New: Here’s a non-newness I hadn’t seen before. One article in the WU tech journal shows the format of each message on the 1950 microwave setup:

Header, body, tail, just like modern packets. Note especially the location identifier SY.GHA in the example, which meant the SYracuse GreyHound station, section A. Berners-Lee didn’t invent anything.

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Later: This WU journal is a treasure trove of well-written solid info. I’m learning new things about all sorts of topics, from assembly lines to termites.