Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

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Yet another steam automaton

As usual, all comments on the picture, game details etc. greatly appreciated.

Revised slightly and reposted Saturday 12.40 AM

The Fosdyke-Chatterton Automatic Secretary (Britain 1896)

BODY [2], MIND [1], SOUL [-], Morse Code [2], Spelling [4]

Cost: £60

Weight: 53 lb.

Carrying Capacity: -

Endurance: 2 hours

Reaction Time: 15 seconds

Reliability: 4

Built-In Equipment: Calculating engine with precision arithmetic, typewriting machine, telephone, telegraph. No eye, anti-phonograph with 800-word vocabulary.

Also Carried: -

Quote: "further.. to.. your.. letter.. of.. the.. fourth.. inst.."

Description: A "complete office in a trunk", this machine is built into a strong wooden frame, which is in turn built into a tin-plate trunk. When opened the typewriting machine and a trumpet for dictation is revealed, along with compartments for files, paper, etc., a telephone, and a writing desk. It can be connected to a standard British telephone line, allowing it to take telephonic dictation and messages and to intercept unwanted calls; there are also fittings for connecting it to a telegraph line. Power is supplied by a small steam engine fuelled with paraffin (kerosene) or methylated spirits (industrial alcohol); there is also a kit containing a length of rubber tubing and a gas burner, allowing the boiler to be heated by gas from any convenient mantle. The illustration shows the machine half-open with the typewriting machine pulled out; the writing desk and access panel have been removed to show the calculating engine. The steam engine, just visible behind the typewriting machine, is normally covered by an asbestos panel, with fuel supplied through a side hatch. The half-open drawer contains the telephone, wires, and tools for connecting it to the exchange line. Several hundred of these machines have been sold.

Notes: These machines, and others like them, are aimed at small businesses and occasional private customers. While the advertising doesn't actually lie, it generally exaggerates their usefulness; dictation is slow, the automaton's voice is hard to understand over the telephone, and while they can send Morse code with relatively few errors they have difficulty decoding incoming messages. An optional upgrade to the Morse Code skill allows them to send and receive encrypted messages using any of the commercial codes authorised by the Post Office and other telegraph companies.


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