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German Devotes Virtual Museum to Teleprinters

By Neal McChristy
01-Jul-99

Henning TreumannHenning T. Treumann, Peine, Germany, stays connected.

Treumann is a Ham radio operator. But if you surf the Web, you'll find his site as the Teleprinter Museum.

Henning says that he tries to get connected on Ham radio almost every weekend, something he's enjoyed since he was age 14.

"My other big hobby is collecting teleprinters," he says, "or as my girlfriend, Petra, always says, 'collecting metal junk.' "

Within the past decade, before fax machines became more commonplace, a Telex number was listed by businessemen on the bottom of business cards. Businesses used the Telex routinely for messages around the world, and some still do. The Telex is not only part of Yesterday's Office, but also today's office in some locales.

Germany Started Telex
Germany started the world's first automatic teleprinter exchange (Telex) system based on telegraph circuits in October 1933. Telex subscribers had modulator-demodulator (modems installed for connecting the teleprinter to the telephone line.

The United Kingdom had introduced Telex in August 1932. The bandwidth of the signal sent by Telex was a twentieth of the telephone signal bandwidth.

By the mid-'40s, Telex was available almost everywhere - to the United States and Canada through the transatlantic cable and elsewhere by telephone or radio links.

Siemens T 68You may think that with the World Wide Web and e-mail, the Telex is outmoded.

But there are over 1.7 million customers who are commercial business subscribers of the landline Telex network.

Henning and a growing but still small band of Ham radio enthusiasts - compared with the figure of 1.7 million - operate RTTY, which means Radio Teletype or Radio-Telex. On marine frequencies, mariners use SITOR, which is Telex Over Radio.

Telex is the only form of transmission system legally recognized as having full legal document status, according to Larry Rice, who wrote "Telex - the key to instant communication," which contains extensive history and information about teleprinters and Telex.

Modern Uses Treumann received his first teleprinter at age 14 in 1978. "I was so fascinated from this noisy monster that the love of these machines lasts until now," Henning said.

Editor's Note: Photos are courtesy of Henning T. Treumann, Peine, Germany.

Some Telex Web sites courtesy of Henning T. Truman, Peine, Germany):
RTTY terminal units
NADCOMM - North American Data Communication Museum
Larry Rice's site for Teleprinters/Telex "downunder"
Museum of Transport, Post and Communications in Nuremberg (Nuernberg), Germany
Swedish Telecommunications Museum
Buffalo Central Terminal Telegraph Office with historical photographs circa 1959-64
Telex - the key to instant communication by Larry Rice.

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