But I would've thought that closed circuit wire transmitting of images was possible by the turn of the 20th Century
as it turns out....your suspicions were actually correct! There was an earlier time I remembered when one of the trivia bits on imdb turned out to be untrue, and I think that's because the section is not vetted or fact-checked necessarily, except by us users (much like Wikipedia). What you wrote above had me wondering about the history of the fax, and similar technology, and it turns out the basic tech for faxing goes back to the middle of the nineteenth
century! Crazy: http://faxauthority.com/fax-history/
And so I did some googling of "Traffic in souls" and phrases like "early fax technology" and found a number of film essays and the like describing the exact real-life
devices being used by Trubus -- the dictograph, and the telegraphic pen. These devices really did exist back then, though they were incredibly modern and cutting edge. I didn't know it, but only a few years after this film (early twenties), they were able to electronically transmit a photograph of US President Calvin Coolidge WIRELESSLY, over the ocean....so closed circuit was already old hat by the twenties! The first time I'd ever heard of/seen a fax machine was around 1978 or so, so I guess I would have assumed it was invented in the 50s or 60s sometime...but they had very primitive faxes even before the first telephone...learn something new every day.
ginbelt, "you da man" for both the reversal and for doing the homework! I work at two jobs which take a 65-75 hours bite out of my week so naturally I wasn't much inclined to check one way or the other.
Okay folks, show's over, nothing to see here!