In defense of NASA: was Re: Wirin' up blinkenlights

From: Ethan Dicks <>
Date: Mon Jun 12 10:37:22 2000

--- Douglas Quebbeman <> wrote:
> > However, I will strongly disagree with anyone who believes we would be in
> > the same place technologically as we are today if there had _not_ been a
> > space program...large "mainstream" entities... do not "develop"
> > technology, they "adopt" it. This is true of... fax machines
> > (which were in vented in the 1700's BTW)
> I was aware that Toshiba was building facsimile machines in 1928
> in Japan, but I didn't know the ability to send an image to a remote
> location predated the deployment of electricity.

Think of Volta and his electric piles. Electricity generated by moving
wires past magnets was a later development, but there was battery power
in the 18th C.

ISTR the device required an engraved copper plate for sending and synchronized
pendula, one on each end of the transmission. I think the receiving paper was
treated in some way to change color when exposed to an electric current. It
wasn't very efficient, but to be able to transmit an image over a distance at
all was quite a feat for its day. The practical application had to wait until
the development of a national communications infrastructure.

One of my favorite quotes from the telecommunications industry was a fellow
who was chided for his enthusiasm about the new telephones. After all, we
had the telegraph - who really needs to speak person-to-person all that
badly. His (paraphrased) response: "The telephone is a wonderful device. I
think at some point, every city will have one."


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Received on Mon Jun 12 2000 - 10:37:22 BST

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