MovieChat Forums > Traffic in SoulsĀ (1913) Discussion > A Portrayal of Advanced Technology

A Portrayal of Advanced Technology


To transmit conversation between rooms, the Go Between was using a mic and in another room the Head Man listened on a headset. What was more amazing was the transmission of text. They used a type of 'tablet' to transmit the writing of the figures to the Head Man in the other room. What was written by the Go Between on one tablet appeared on the Head Man's tablet as it was written. Very techie for 100 years ago!

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I was thinking the same thing re: the transmitting writing tablet but was less surprised about the mic and headphones, since their use was precedented by what was then a 36 year old invention -- the telephone.

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I know they had the telephone. It was just the inclusion of technology that I thought was cool. I also liked how they wiretapped the transmissions and recorded them on a cylinder. That was some pretty tricky detective work there.

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Criminals stay up on the latest tech, no matter what the century in which they flourish -- including the here and now where they have all kinds of internet scams going on, identity theft via computers and other gadgets, etc. But don't get me wrong, I'm with ya :-)

Another movie from the old days has the shoe on the other foot: this time, the good guys in WHITE HEAT (1949) have mad dog killer Cody Jarrett (James Cagney) under their scrutiny with what was then state of the art technology. Worth a look just for those scenes alone -- but, hey, you can NEVER go wrong watching any flick with Jimmy Cagney in it!

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Thanks for the advice. I have that movie, White Heat. I haven't gotten around to watching it. Maybe tonight :)

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Let me know what you thought of it or post comment or thread in the White Heat boards after you see it!



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I was reading this thread, saw your post and had to ask, if you have seen White Heat now, what did you think? God I love great films from the old Warner Bros. days!

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So do I! MGM pictures delivered a polished product but you could always count on Warner Bros. to churn out "diamond in the rough" fare and plenty of exciting potboilers!

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Criminals stay up on the latest tech, no matter what the century in which they flourish


I'm sure that's true; that said, it doesn't appear anyone noticed, under the "Trivia" section, the following:

The "higher-up" uses a imaginative, though thoroughly fictional, device which transmits handwriting between his cohort and himself.


Victorian-era and slightly later period tech/antiques is an interest of mine, and I know that tablet thingamajig caught my attention, and had ME thinking to myself, "gee, I never heard of anything like THAT existing back in 1913....seems a bit far-fetched." I wondered if it was just made-up for the sake of the plot.

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Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I feel like a fool now lol!

But I would've thought that closed circuit wire transmitting of images was possible by the turn of the 20th Century

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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.

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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.

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I was amazed at the text thing. Wow.


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