Twitter at Gettysburg

With our obsession for newness, those of us who work in the tech industry often fail to understand the historical roots of our technologies. Case in point: telegraph operators more than 150 years ago were sending short messages called "graphs" that were surprisingly similar in form and content to Twitter tweets.

One remarkable example was recently discovered in the Museum of Telegraphy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  It is the transcript of a telegraph operator's comments during Abraham Lincoln's famed Gettysburg Address in 1863.  The transcript was shared with me by a friend on the museum staff, and I'm pleased to reproduce it here:


Still waiting for the Pres. to commence his speech.  #gettysburg

Good heavens, I should have foresworn that fifth corn dodger for lunch.  #gas  #dontask  #gettysburg

Starting now.  Pres. waves to crowd. #gettysburg

Four score and... WTF is a score?  25?  #pleasespeakenglish  #gettysburg

Okay, it's twenty.  So "87 years ago the country was founded."  Why not just say that?  Duh.  #gettysburg

Heh-heh-heh.  He said "conceived."  Heh-heh.  #gettysburg

"Now we are in a great civil war."  More duh.  #gettysburg

@zebekiah1134  I know, it's my own fault for buying lunch from a wagon.  #gas  #gettysburg

Hoping to get in two miles this afternoon.  Depends on how long this speech goes.  #gettysburg

"It is altogether fitting and proper that we should dedicate this cemetery."  Ooookay.  #gettysburg

Saw @matthewbrady this morning, taking pictures of guys with big beards.  #muttonchopsrule  #gettysburg

"The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here."  #nokidding  #gettysburg

Hey you in the hat.  Yes, you.  Take it off, you're blocking my view.  #gettysburg

"This nation shall have a new birth of freedom."  Great, finally we'll get some details.  #gettysburg

"Government shall not perish from the earth."  Good to know.  #gettysburg

Where's he going?  #gettysburg

What, that's IT?  I waited five hours in the sun for THAT??  #ripoff  #votedemocrat  #gettysburg

Maybe I'll make it four miles. #outahere  #gettysburg


Posted April 1, 2012

2011:  The microwave hairdryer, and four other colossal tech failures you've never heard of
2010:  The Yahoo-New York Times merger
2009:  The US government's tech industry bailout
2008:  Survey: 27% of early iPhone adopters wear it attached to a body piercing
2007:  Twitter + telepathy = Spitr, the ultimate social network
2006:  Google buys Sprint


strozzi said...

Had me going there, until the first "WTF".
Yeah, happy April Fool's to you, too.