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Jun 09

Sending telephotos, World War II week by week

May 26, 1943 photos included the U.S.S. Oklahoma being raised from depths of Pearl Harbor.

May 26, 1943 photos included the U.S.S. Oklahoma being raised from depths of Pearl Harbor.

When I started my career in newspapers we had a box in the corner of the newsroom that would spit wirephotos out every couple of minutes. Next to it was another box attached to a phone. If news happened you would make a print, type a caption on sticky paper, attach it to the print then call Associated Press in Los Angeles and cross your fingers. Often it would take three or more tries to get a clean image sent and each photo would take about 10 minutes to send. Any noise in the phone line would cause what they called a “line hit” and the image would be ruined.
The personal computer changed the analog signal to a more transmittable set of 1s and 0s and changed our lives for the better. We no longer wait for a drum to slowly whine as the 8×10 print went through the laser scanner.
It looks like technology from the 1940s was about the same, here a group of technicians from the NEA-Acme wire service transmit photos from a food conference in 1943. The equipment was delicate and expensive and the first newspaper I worked at was too cheap to have one on-site. When we had big news the prints were taken to a nearby city to transmit. This photo ran at the bottom of page 7 under a pair of photos that the U.S. Navy had given NEA. On photo showed that repair work from the devastating attack at Pearl Harbor was still ongoing.

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