Some questions about history

Don Nielson
Wed, 30 Sep 1998 16:27:13 -0700

Dick, thanks for the reply.  I appreciate the effort from afar.  As to SRI,
no it is still around.  My phrasing wasn't quite right.  Since I wasn't sure
would have heard of SRI, I added Stanford Research Institute even though
we were to give up that name for just SRI some years ago.

Regarding the endurance of the TTY and Baudot code, another indication
of their health can be found at  Whether its
users care anything about computers or not, it would seem that conventional
email would have enough advantages that displacement would have occurred
in spite of the endearment or pride.  One other factor at that time was cost.
Even though the original Deafnet sites had some capital subsidization from the
Government, the computers of the day were too expensive to maintain.

A web page for the TTY Museum estimates that there are perhaps a million
such machines working today in behalf of the deaf community. (See  Is that a reasonable number, anyone?

richard barth wrote:

> Don,
> My apologies for the delay in getting back to you.  I'm currently
> attending an ITU meeting in Geneva and things have been a tad hectic.
> First, what happened to SRI?  Did they just change the name or did
> something more drastic happen?  As usual, there's always somebody who
> didn't get the word.
> Second, there are a number of people currently in AMRAD who were part of
> the early days of Deafnet/HEX/, the HEW projects for assisting the
> deaf.  You didn't indicate whether you were corresponding with any other
> AMRADers, but in case you have missed a few I'm forwarding this reply to a
> group of people who may be able to provide additional information.  If so,
> I hope they will contact you directly.
> To address your questions:
> 1. Teletypwriters for the Deaf, Inc. did indeed change its name to
> Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.  The acronym stays the same.
> Barry Strassler, who is one of the cc: addressees of this message, was at
> one time Executive Director of TDI and can probably answer any questions
> you may have about that organization.
> 2. Opinion here is that there is a group pride in what is often referred
> to as the Deaf Telecommunications Network, i.e., the Baudot-box TTY.
> There is also a large existing inventory of the things in the hands of
> deaf people who couldn't care less about computers, and anyone without a
> Baudot capability isolates himself from a large percentage of the deaf
> population.  So, while many deaf people have bought computers like
> everybody else, many have not, and there is a need to provide for those
> who remain with the tried-and-true TTY.  I expect this will remain the case
> indefinitely.
> 3. My opinion again...  I think Deafnet was just ahead of its time.  When
> it was created, there simply was not much public knowledge of computers
> nor was there the widespread public interest in the subject that exists
> today.  The major users of Deafnet (to my knowledge, anyway) were the
> well-educated minority of the deaf population and a few hearing techies
> like me and thee.  It wasn't enough to sustain the system until computers
> took off on their own.  I suspect that if something like Deafnet were to
> be created today, accessible via the Internet, there would be a lot more
> positive reaction.
> Fellow AMRADers, feel free to jump in here.
> Regards,
> Dick Barth, W3HWN
> ******
> On Mon, 28 Sep 1998, Don Nielson wrote:
> > Hi!  My name is Don Nielson and I am writing some history of what
> > used to be known
> > as Stanford Research Institute.  I was a member of the Laboratory
> > at SRI in which
> > the both Weitbrecht's modem was developed, which built several
> > small, portable
> > terminals for use by the deaf (sponsored by HEW), and which
> > initiated Deafnet.
> >
> > My questions are these and I would appreciate any informed view
> > you may have
> > on them:
> >
> > 1.  In the beginning there was an organization called
> > Teletypewriters for the Deaf.
> > Did it become Telecommunications for the Deaf or were these
> > separate organizations?
> >
> > 2.  It was to Bob Weitbrecht's dismay that SRI advocated a
> > terminal for the deaf
> > that had both the Weitbrecht modem and the new Bell 103 standard,
> > thinking that
> > it would transition the deaf into the commodity world of cheap
> > terminals and to the
> > vocations surrounding computers.   Why does the Baudot system
> > still exist in the
> > deaf community and the marketplace?
> >
> > 3.  Why, in your opinion, did the Deafnet systems that were
> > "planted" in a number
> > of metropolitan areas around the country not take off?  SRI and
> > HEW were careful
> > to engage members of the deaf community to try to operate them.
> >
> > Appreciate your quick response.
> >
> > Don Nielson
> >
> >