Friday, February 07, 2014

End of an Era

This notice announces the replacement of FSA fax machines by an Internet based fax solution.

When I joined ASCS there were two methods of getting instructions to the field fast: the printed notice, which typically would take 2-3 days to get printed, put in the pouch mail for the state office, and be received by the state office.  The state office could modify the notice, print copies for the counties, and mail them out.  So we probably figured on 3-5 business days for material to hit the county office, and that was with everything working smoothly.

The other method was the "wire notice", ideally a page or two, because it would be taken to the Department's teletype office  and typed on the teletype for wiring to the state offices.  This cut the time to 2-4 hours, but the state office still had to retype the incoming copy, print, and mail to county offices. (The text was in all caps, which has left me with a confirmed prejudice against all caps in any form.)

So in the early 70's the Records and Communications Branch of the Administrative Services Division got into facsimile machines.  Rather quickly as I remember it they got the money to install fax machines in each state office and we moved the "wire notices" over to the fax machines. It took a long while for the Department's teletype center to be closed down: AMS did their market news through there, they put new releases "out on the wire" (and those were still the days when a news release could move commodity prices), and selected people with homeland security responsibilities (as we'd call them today, then they were "defense" responsibilities) got copies of State Department cables, both the FAS stuff and other traffic.

So the fax machine has had its run of about 30 years, being replaced by a software package.  RIP fax machines.

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