Saturday, April 20, 2013

caught in the tube but no 'arm done

I noticed the other day, for the first time (although I am sure that someone has told me before), that my local supermarket has Lamson pneumatic tube systems at the cash registers. It may just be the extreme weariness that overcomes me at the Albert Heijn but it shows you have to keep your eyes out for this technology!

Eyes out, but arms in! A poor Tesco's duty manager made news in Manchester recently because of an unfortunate incident at his pneumatic cash system. The young man's arm got caught in the tube system, suspended vertically for 30 minutes. The reasons the limb found it into the vacuum are unclear - perhaps doing some "maintenance work" on the tube? Fire crews came to the rescue and dismantled the tube, using a (pneumatic) saw to release the man from the contraption. Unfortunately for the red-faced duty manager, as it was a 24 hour supermarket the store didn't close during the fireman's efforts so there were plenty of spectators to enjoy the event.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

jetsons again

Described as the most Jetsonian of technological wonders, pneumatic tubes were the topic of the Smithsonian blog recently. Matt Novak described how pneumatic tubes appeared in a particular episode amongst a dazzling array of other futuristic technologies such as videophones, 3D TV, cleaning robots and moving sidewalks. All of these technologies he suggests, are "masquerading as scenery while they're in fact the star of the show".

This episode is titled Miss Solar System, and was aired on February 10th, 1963. It featured a horizontal pneumatic tube system with multiple points of entry and exit, which differed from the vertical systems used in previous episodes.

Image from the Smithsonian blog.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

in the newsroom

Julie Starr posted this wonderful photo from the New Zealand Herald Manual of Journalism, 1967, on her blog The Evolving Newsroom. It appears that accepting copy from the editorial department and sending galley proofs via pneumatic tubes was once a busy job for printers - I can see at least seven shutes!

Friday, April 5, 2013

basement oracle

Late last year an empty library was transformed into a free art/music event for Madison residents. The one day festival Bookless (see more details on the Library as Incubator Project site), celebrated many loved features of the old Madison Central Library including card catalogues and pneumatic tubes. The pneumatic tubes, pictured here in their former life, were turned into a basement oracle, delivering fortunes to Bookless visitors.

As messages are delivered from pneumatic pipes, they often appear to come from nowhere - an oldfashioned mystery - capturing the imagination of the public. My sister Chelsea will be writing a guest post for pneumaticpost on other ways in which pneumatic tubes have been used in museums, as ways of fascinating and engaging visitors.

Image of the pneumatic tubes in the old Madison Central Library from Madison Guy's Flikr photostream. See Madison Public Library's Flikr photostream for an image from the Bookless exhibition.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

waiting and watching some tubes

Waiting for a baby to come - image by Andy from a radiology waiting room, Panti Rapih Hospital, Indonesia.