recommended reading

How a Cat Helped Pioneer New Postal Service Technology, Circa 1897

Thinkstock

Before people relied on a theoretical series of tubes for the exchange of interpersonal correspondence, they used tubes of a more literal variety. Starting in 1897 and lasting until 1953, the New York City Post office moved mail across the city using, in part, an intricate system of pneumatic tubes -- tubes that were networked underground at some 4 to 6 feet below the city surface. Tubes that shot enormous canisters full of mail around the city at 35 miles an hour. Tubes that were operated by workers nicknamed "Rocketeers." At the peak of its operation, the tube system carried around 95,000 letters a day -- about 30 percent of all the mail that was routed through the metropolis.

New Yorkers of the Gilded Age knew an exciting technology when they saw one. And, when the tubes opened for tube-ing in the fall of 1897, the occasion was marked by the sending of canisters whose contents were appropriately epic: among them a Bible (wrapped, appropriately, in an American flag); a copy of the Constitution; and a copy of President McKinley's inaugural speech. The items that initiated the new delivery service, however, weren't entirely epic. Postal workers are nothing if not pranksters.

For that reason and others that seem lost to history, the pneumatic tubes of New York City's General Post Office, when they launched in 1897, ended up whisking away ... a cat. Yep. A live cat. A black cat. A probably quite indignant cat. As a general rule, it seems, humans will always find ways to join cats and series of tubes

Read the full story at The Atlantic.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.