OVER 2 YOU, 124 (01/04/03)
EARLY TEXT MESSAGING
Whilst trying to convince
my 12-year old ‘know-all’ granddaughter that there was nothing new under the
sun I pointed out that many years ago, long before computers and mobile phones,
we used a form of shorthand Text Messaging on Telex machines to ‘chat’ to other
Telex users but I couldn’t for the life of me remember any examples. Can anyone
help me out, to prove to her that I’m not going senile?
Pru Stevens, via email
Yes, I certainly recall and
regularly use the shortened method of writing, which I was taught at College in
the 50's. Simply miss out as many vowels as poss to get the meaning across.
i.e. "Pls ring me asap & I will gt bk to u tomrw mrng & we
can tlk abt it agn". I become quite cross when I am accused of 'text
speak', not at all!
Barbara Oates, Princes
and probably a lot earlier, G.P.O. Telegraphists used shorthand on personal
chat messages on Teleprinters. These were against the rules, and if intercepted
the message would be gummed up on a Telegram form and the culprit would be
charged for the message at the Telegram rate of a penny a word. Unfortunately
the only one I can remember is BLX and I assume that as a lady Pru will not
know what that means. If she does I wish her luck explaining it to her
Once the transatlantic
cable was established, from 1860 onwards, cablegrams were charged per word,
6/- initially, soon reduced to 1/- per word. (Government and the military had
priority). A newspaper editor cabled a lazy foreign correspondent YUNEWS. The reply - UNEWS. The editor cabled UNEWS UNJOB.
I worked for a Japanese
trading company in the 70s and 80s when all global communication was by telex,
here are some examples: Bibi = Goodbye FYG = For your guidance, FYI = For your
information, Tks ntd = Thanks noted Bcz = Because, Ysday = Yesterday, Tdy =
Today, Tmrw = Tomorrow
When I started with British
Railways in the late fifties, we not only had unofficial Telex codes – we also
had a booklet of official codes. 'MINTED' was the equivalent of AWOL, and was
used in conversation as well as Telex - 'Teddy Nanson has minted'. 'GOOSE' was
'stop forwarding traffic to' - e.g. 'GOOSE Gateshead'. Finally, EARWIG, RANGLE
and MOSELLE were all variations of 'This is most urgent' and most Telex
messages therefore ended with all three. Some even got a reply!
Graham Dean, Bingham,
I was a teleprinter
operator in the RAF between 1956 and 1958 during National Service and recall
some of the unofficial "chat" messages we used. AS was official
signal code for "wait", but we would often add "A TIC",
i.e. "wait a moment". TKS was commonly used for "thanks",
often expanded to TKSVM, "thanks very much". Exchanges would often
end with CU or BCNU. Perhaps this inspired the clever Two Ronnies sketch in
which someone enquires in a stage-German accent, "F U N E X",
("Have you any eggs?") to which as I recall the response was
something like, "S, V F M N X", (Yes, we have ham and eggs").
George D Campbell
I can remember, when asking
the Comm Cen if they could send a msg to our man in Timbuctoo or wherever it
was, I would receive: GA OM which meant Go Ahead Old Man. We
would finish with NNNN (ends, meaning message ends).
I was also a telex operator
(during the 1950s) but the only bits I can remember are LO = Hullo, and CUL =
See You Later - so much more sophisticated than the text messagers' rather
lengthy equivalent CUL8er.
In 1955 I was
a teleprinter operator at Bletchley, the RAF signals centre. We used messaging both official and
unofficial all the time to speed up signals and keep them flowing. The Q
code was three letter groups, which meant a whole sentence. For example, QRT
meant 'Quit sending transmission immediately’ when a problem arose. A friend in
Cyprus used it to me when he started getting shot at by Eoka terrorists and had
to duck under the desk! And don't forget Tommy Handley with his
famous wartime sign off - TTFN (ta ta for now).
Abbreviations have been
with us from the earliest days of telegraphy (Morse code) whether on ship or
shore. Examples include TKS CUL OM BV = Thanks, see you later old man, bon
voyage, R = Message received and understood, YL = young lady, XYL = wife and so on.
Geoff Halligey, Pencoed, South Wales
In view of the current
international situation I wonder if anyone knows of a source of inexpensive
J. Delaney, via email
Suitable instruments (and
very much else!) may be found at:
A. J. B
Go to the ebay online
auction site (www.ebay.co.uk) and type
‘Geiger’ into the search window. My search revealed at least half a dozen
Geiger counters – a couple of them NATO spec -- and radiation dosimeters, selling
for between £25 and £150.
Cliff Danway, via email
I am a very mature
part-time student, trying to find a free or cheap software program that will
carry out statistical analysis for variables that may occur in a questionnaire,
and to be able to complete the analysis using percentages, bar charts
etc. There is one extremely good and comprehensive program called SPSS
that is the domain of Sheffield Hallam University, but the licence will only
last as long as you are a student there and they relieve you of about £25 each
year for the licence.
Paul Farndon, via email
There is, or used to be, a
freeware stats package called Dataplot, similar to Minitab, which has many of
the functions of SPSS. Unfortunately, I cannot recollect the site I obtained
it from but an Internet search should locate it if it is still available.
For some years I have used
a suite of four programs by Timo Salmi of Vasa University, Finland. Have a look
at ts1st22.zip to ts4st19.zip from: http://garbo.uwasa.fi/pc/ts.html.
Their extensive range of useful programs can be found at: http://garbo.uwasa.fi
The NHS has for many years been using a
package called Epi Info (http://www.cdc.gov/epiinfo/),
which is built for the purpose (Epi being short for Epidemiological). As far as
I'm aware, it's a free package (although that may only be true for public
services - but Mr. Farndon's quote of a £25 license fee for SPSS suggests that
he may also be in public service). The latest version is Windows-based and will
import from Access, amongst others. The range of statistical tests is good, if
not comprehensive. For that you really do need such as SPSS.
of Computing, Medical Physics, Hull Royal Infirmary
Having spent a considerable
time renovating an 1830's Broadwood Cabinet piano, including re-stringing in
the original iron and brass wires, now comes the task of tuning. Does
anyone know of any software that can be used to measure the vibrations of a
string either through sound or ‘touch’? I need to measure vibrations
between about 30 and 3000 cycles per second. It would need to be
fairly accurate to within a few cps.
Alan Haddington, via email
Whilst not directly
concerned with the technical aspects of Mr Haddington's request re renovations
to a Broadwood piano the following information may be of interest to him.
Historical information on sales records of John Broadwood and Sons from 1798
onwards is held in the Surrey History Centre (email@example.com).
CAN YOU HELP?
I have to undertake a
project, which involves going round a 40-acre site and recording the name, age
and position of all of the trees. What I have in mind is some sort of hand held
GPS system that permits "waypoint" logging with a reference code and
then having recorded all of the trees (about 1500 I think) I then need to
"download" or transfer the data to a suitable piece of software which
will take the data and permit full display, editing and printing.
Can anyone help fill in the details?
Ric Ackland-Snow, via email
My brother recently emailed
me details of a website (www.cyberglass.biz/FlashEx/mindreader.html)
that claims to be able to ‘read your mind’. Unbelievably it actually seems to
work but I can’t for the life of me see how it does it; can anyone put me out
of my misery?
Trish Naylor, via email
I have an old radiogram,
which is about 45 years old and in need of attention. Is there anyone these
days available and capable of repairing old valve equipment?
Norman Musson, Corby,