Sunday, May 13, 2012

NY Fed: "Historical Echoes: Pneumatic Tubes and Banking" (plus a special bonus)

From the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Liberty Street blog:
 Pneumatic tubes—a system in which cylinder-shaped containers (that could contain messages, money, small objects, and even food) are propelled through a network of tubes via compressed air or partial vacuum—are a relatively old technology. (Pneumatic tubes were patented in the United States in 1940, with earlier forms existing prior to this date). But when used in innovative ways in the past, they were viewed as futuristic. What may come to mind first is the use of pneumatic tubes in George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) to transport messages and newspapers. The 1954 film of the book depicts the use of the technology (starting three minutes into this clip).

     In Bill Bryson’s homage to growing up in the 1950s, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, he describes the use of pneumatic tubes in a department store:

Every commercial enterprise had something distinctive to commend it. The New Utica department store downtown had pneumatic tubes rising from each cash register. The cash from your purchase was placed in a cylinder, then inserted in the tubes and fired—like a torpedo—to a central collection point, such was the urgency to get the money counted and back into the economy. A visit to the New Utica was like a trip to a future century.
     What does this have to do with banks? According to Kent Mustoe, an engineering student and member of a group called the Pneumanics (a team of six students in the L05 section of ECE4007, Georgia Tech's senior design course for electrical engineers), banking is one of the industries with the longest running use of this technology....MORE
Also at Liberty Street, the post I was actually going for:
Just Released: The New York Fed Staff Forecast—May 2012