Teletype Exhibit

Printing telegraphs were invented to send and receive messages, which meant that operators did not need to know Morse code. Skilled women telegraph operators were the equal of men in pay and responsibility while telegraphy was used, but lost this equality when the teletype took over because the job paid less.

Emile Baudot was the inventor of the first means of digital communication in the 1870s. He was looking for an alternative to the telegraph, which required highly trained people. He devised a 5-digit code for each character in the alphabet. His printing telegraph had only 5 keys, requiring the operator to memorize the 5-digit code for each character. The best speed of operation was 50 words per minute with a skilled operator. On the receiving end the message was printed on a paper strip.

In 1930 AT&T bought Teletype in an attempt to create a teletypewriter exchange system (TWX) similar to the telephone exchange system. In Europe a similar system was called Telex. A message was typed and punched onto a paper tape; a special tape reader sent the message over telephone lines or a radio link to the desired recipient. At the receiving end the teletypewriter would type the message, then shut off. This was essentially the first electronic mail system, first used in 1930. Teletypes are quite complex but very problem free. Dependable, but heavy.