Monday, August 25, 2008


It must be Music Nostalgia Week here (or maybe Midlife Crisis Week) because I feel like posting clip after clip of songs from my youth! I'll restrain myself and drip feed you the fabulousness, because you know, too much of a good thing and all that.

Pop quiz, who remembers Telex machines? Anyone?

This pic is not quite right, but the closest I could find to the sort of machine I used way back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

I actually operated one of these precursors to email many years ago. They were typewriter style contraptions that were larger than a sedan, but smaller than a stationwagon. Ideal for a family of four!

The pic above is not quite right, because the machine I operated had a punch tape on the side. You see, the telex machine sent plain text down a telephone line to a matching machine at the other end. Like magic. You could type and send in real time or (my favourite bit) type your message onto a punched ticker tape that could be spliced to edit (no, really - with scissors and sticky tape, and everything) and then run through the reader to send a faster (and neater if you are a crapola typist like me) message down the line.

Anyhoo, wow exposition! So. When telex machines were brand spanking new there was a French electronica group that came out, calling themselves Telex. (Imagine a group calling themselves Email, or IM, these days.) I loved them unreservedly because their simple, repetitive synth tracks sounded like the future. They were mildly successful in OZ, but not so successful that loving them made me feel more mainstream that cutting edge.

Here's their biggest hit, "Twist A Saint Tropez", Telex. 1978.:

What I didn't realise is that they were responsible for a hideously bad 1980 Eurovision entry! Brace yourselves:

Makes you want to scrub your ears, right? Sorry about that.


M-H said...

I didn't ever use one, but when I worked in the Immigration Division of the New Zealand Labour Department I drafted many of them and even rushed some across town in a taxi to The Minister's Office so they could be sent ugently.

M-H said...

urgently.... sorry. No ointments involved. :)

Sunshine said...

Telex machine ... hmmm ... my question is -WHY? :P

The Other Andrew said...

M-H, we were communicating with Customs, which made us feel like we were doing VERY IMPORTANT WORK.

Sunshine, for exactly the same reason email was invented! The need to send written messages. Don't forget, these things pre-date email, mobile phone texting and even affordable home pcs. Evan fax machines were in their infancy, with crappy thermal roll paper that faded quickly.

Michael Guy said...

I recall grammar school test sheets fresh from the "mimeograph" machine...that sickly chemical smell bordering on nail polish and poppers.

Maybe that's why I'm queer. Just saying.

Not that this is directly related to your fabulous telex posting..but similar in thought regarding when dinosaurs walked the earth, I figure.

Andy's Crafts said...

I have used those ancient machines!

Miss Grace Jones said...

We used to send the jobs to the CES job centres via telex machine. Before Jobsystem and computer terminals came in.