Tubes! Invented in the early 1800s, the act of launching information at the speed of compressed air has since been reserved for bank tellers and potato aeronautics. But believe it or not, pneumatic chutes were still considered to be on the up-and-up as late as the mid-1990s.
In other news, electric penny-farthing sales are booming!
As email was secretly winding back for the death blow, companies like Ascom Communications and Pevco Systems were envisioning a "high-tech" world where fax machines and telephone calls were replaced with elaborate in-office suckage conduits. And thanks to shiny new computer technology that allowed flow trackage and braking systems, it seemed like this $50 million industry was only getting started. As Wired prophesied, entire neighborhoods and cities would someday be entangled by a literal series of tubes reaching every household -- the likes of which would dwarf the once-thriving underground pneumatic systems of New York and Paris. That's right: Imagine if, instead of sitting down with your laptop, you relied patiently on an embedded wall chute to tell you the latest movie times and deliver such fine articles as "6 Celebrity Telegraphs That Backfired Horribly."
Although this steampunk vision of the future ultimately failed to come to fruition, the irony is that the technology's intended evolution looks surprisingly familiar. Specifically, the historical assumption that giant pneumatic plumbing would someday be used to transport people.
Andrew J. Hawkins/The Verge
Someday we will achieve mass dead goldfish travel.