|A pneumatic tube terminal|
Having spent some time frequenting hospitals recently I was very impressed that they can take a blood sample and receive an analysis from the remote lab within one hour. I was surprised to find that central to the process is a network of pneumatic tubes that connect clinics to the lab. The nurses place the samples into a cylindrical container that is placed in the tube and “sucked” all the way to the lab in some remote building. The results come back via the computer network.
The reason for my surprise was that I thought such devices had died out long ago. They used to be common in department stores where the sales clerk would enclose your money and details of the sale in a similar cylinder and send it on its way to a remote accounting office. The office would send back your change and a receipt, or details on the purchase registered on your account – the return would be announced by a great deal of wheezing and rattling as the cylinder made its way back through the tubes and finally plunked into a basket.
|The Lamson Air-Line wire system|
I didn’t even know what these devices were called but a bit of Googling led me to the Cash Railways website that gave me the name “cash railway.” The home page opens with a simulation of the trolley and has all the details that you would need to know about cash railways. It even has local information on where systems were installed and tells us that you can see “wire catapult” systems at the Cambridge Museum and the Taranaki Aviation Transport and Technology Museum. Worth a visit!
- Bob Doran