Data communications over telegraph circuits 1893
Which is a shame. When modern day fax came out (called "telecopier" then) companies jumped on it. Being able to send a whole document instantly was a major advantage despite the fuzzy image.
One big drawback of DeskFax was that it was small documents. That was useful for sending a message--like a telegram--but not a whole document. I'm sure that had facsimile machines for full pages back then but they were rather large machines and probably quite slow. Once long distance rates dropped and fast call set up was available, deskfax was obsolete.
Data communications over telegraph circuits 1897
Jim Haynes I found some posts you made to the Telecom archives with Business Week articles...
Data communications over telegraph circuits 1894
That was all they intended it for. A way to get a telegram to-from the nearest WU office. They were...
According to a mid-1950s promotional film, Deskfax was used end-to-end. I thought Oslin's book said so too, maybe not. If all Deskfax was was an alternate way to send a telegram (instead of reading it over the phone), it's utility would be quite limited.
I don't see any major technical limitation to forwarding faxes as faxes other than handling a rather long piece of tape with the digitized image.
That doesn't seem that goofy to me, at least in the context of the 1950s. Not long ago there were public pay fax machines available for a while and I think the only thing that end that was that the machines became so cheap people could have them at home or simply use a fax modem to shoot out an output file. (I do that all the time at home with my 14.4; the only drawback is that I can't actually sign the letters.) For many years the post office experimented with postage vending machines--you stick in your letter, put in coins, pull the handle, and the letter was stamped and taken. Rather ungainly stuff.
Now having a car drive around aimlessly while waiting to get a telegram via radio to deliver--that was goofy.
One of my prejudices was that telegraph transmission would be rather simple, certainly simpler than voice communication. It's a pulse along a wire. At some distance, before the pulse gets too distorted, you stick in a relay to receive and resend the pulse. In other words, "amplication" would be done with a simple relay. I didn't realize the electrical issues were a lot more complex than that. Articles dealt with the waveform of pulses and testing and calibrating them so the marks and spaces were correct. Western Union was dealing with the same challenges in transmission the Bell System was for its voice circuits. The postwar modernization was quite sophisticated.
My impression of history was that this was a handshake agreement--obviously not enforceable in court--but a promise. I suspect other industries that had some overlap made similar style agreements to avoid competing for each other's business. For instance, AT&T decided to get out of the entertainment broadcasting business but wanted patent protection or licenses to ensure it could use radio for telecom needs. AT&T negotiated with radio carriers (RCA I believe). I don't know if a formal signed agreement was executed. I think such handshake agreements are common in business even among compebreastors.
Data communications over telegraph circuits 1898
Remember that through the 1960s and into the 1970s there was an awful lot of computer time sharing being done...
I suspect IBM didn't push too hard in modem development in the late 1950s to avoid antagonizing a major customer--the Bell System.
All true. Is Coe's book old? I think I read that some time ago and it was more 19th century stuff with little on the 20th. Someone wrote a book "The Victorian Internet" but again it was 19th C stuff.
In a sense, AT&T and WU did compete--in the public interest--by offering two different ways to send messages quickly long distance. Long Distance phone was terribly expensive and cumbersome until the late 1950s. Again, I'd love to know the year and costs where say a fairly long distance phone call became cost compebreastive with a telegram. Basically, the public message portion of WU's business was pretty well ruined at that point. Actually, I think they kind of forseen that and recognized that 'final mile' was very tough.
The railroads long ago sought to run 'unit trains'--a full train of a single commodity going non-stop from one point to another--ie a load of coal to a power plant. Stopping a train and switching freight cars in and out of it is very expensive and inefficient. I suspect WU saw the same thing and wanted to get into higher volume communications between fixed points, such as corporate private line service and Telex.