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How Pneumatic Tubes Work

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Author's Note: How Pneumatic Tubes Work

Back when I became a newspaper reporter in the mid-1980s, my then-employer, the Pittsburgh Press, actually still had a pneumatic tube system, which it used to transmit photos from the wire services printers to the sports department. I was in the features department, but my desk was right next to the pneumatic tube portal. Every so often — usually, as I was in the middle of an important phone interview or trying to compose a pithy lead — I would hear this loud, rocket-ship-like swoosh, followed by the thud of the glass and metal canister arriving. It was a bit jarring, and at the time, I found it annoying. But today, I have to admit that I'm a little nostalgic about that sound, because pneumatic tubes pretty much have vanished, and sadly, so has the Pittsburgh Press.

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