When was the last time you sent someone a photo? That question may sound strange, since the behavior in question is quite common. In the 2020s, we took photos and shared them with the world without thinking. But in the 1930s, almost everyone who sent photos did so by mail. Not that there weren't more efficient means of communication, at least for cutting-edge newspaper industry professionals. Visual collateral for sufficiently important scoops, as dramatized in his 1937 short documentary above, can also be transmitted over television in just a few minutes. The miracle of wire.

“Almost as fast as telephone talk, wired photography now crosses continents at the speed of light,” the narrator proclaims breathlessly, in the style of a newsreel announcer. She says, “Rather than sending the entire image at once, it's important to break the image into thin lines, send those lines over a wire, and assemble them at the other end.”

Illustrating this process is an ingenious mechanical support that includes two spindles on a hand crank and a long rope printed with an image of a car that unwinds from one spindle to the other. Animated diagrams also reveal the inner workings of the actual scanning, transmitting, and receiving equipment for the viewer to fully understand.

This process may seem incredibly tedious now, but at the time it was a breakthrough for mass visual media. In the decades after World War II, the same basic principle – breaking down an image into lines at one point and reassembling it at another – was used in ordinary American homes and offices on televisions and other televisions. It is now adopted by many devices. And a fax machine. We know, as viewers in 1937 did not, how these analog technologies would change the nature of his 20th century life and work. As for what their digital descendants will do in his 21st century, they continue to break down all existence into bits rather than lines, and we are only just beginning to know that.

kids should watch this

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The History of American Newspapers Has Been Digitized: Exploring 114 Years Editor and Publisher“The Bible of the Newspaper Industry”

From the Annual Report of Optimism: The newspaper industry imagines a digital future in 1981

Based in Seoul, Colin Mbershall Write and broadcastIt's about cities, languages ​​and cultures.His projects include his Substack newsletter books about cities, Book Stateless City: Walking through Los Angeles in the 21st Century and video series city ​​in movies. Follow him on Twitter @ColinbeHave to Or on Facebook.

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