Draft of device, some historical info, etc.
One of the earliest hotel annunciators belonged to the Tremont House, known as the first modern hotel, in Boston, Massachusetts. The annunciator, patented by Seth Fuller, was a "bell system [which] enabled guests to call “rotunda men” to their rooms” (Berger). The annunciator was essentially a system of hanging bells. Electric bells were among the main components of early annunciators.
Zeilinski notes that techniques for the initiation of “microevents in distant places with the aid of electrocircuits,” had been devised and demonstrated in eC19 (182). The use of a bell to signal something which is somehow outside of content, a message which concerns itself not with the text but the form of the text is exhibited in these early devices “A further wire, connected to the clapper of a bell, existed to signal the beginning and end of a message” (182), referring to Soemmering’s early 1800s telegraph, with a different wire for each letter, bubbles.
The basic annunciator in lC19 consists of a bell fixed to an often ornate wooden box that stores the receiver’s mechanization and frames its visual interface. The face is divided into discrete units, each comprised of a linguistic or numeral signifier representing the location of a calling device and an armature capable of rest in two positions, one indicating a call. When a call button is depressed, two types of data are transmitted simultaneously by the annunciator through two binary codes, one visual and one aural. Dormancy and silence indicate that no external message is being conveyed to the central hub. A call closes the electrical circuit; the struck or vibrating bell audibly announces a change in the visible structure’s information, which has shifted an individual annunciating unit’s lever from one position to a second.
If an attendant was not near enough to hear the bell, the armature would be held into place by its own weight and convey the message that a call had been placed from the room indicated. This feature of the device is mentioned by a number of sources as being especially useful in dealing with a “forgetful” wait staff. On a ship’s annunciator: “One great advantage to this contrivance is that should the servant fail to hear the bell he can always tell by looking at “indicator,” whether his services are needed.” 2*
2*Headline: Arrival of the America. 7 Days Later from Europe; Article Type: News/Opinion Paper: Southern Patriot, published as The Southern Patriot; Date: 10-02-1848; Volume: LX; Issue: 9653; Page: ;
Another variation of the annunciator is found in Knights American Mechanical Dictionary: “The chamber of the guest and the hotel office are each provided with an indexed gauge, consisting of a hollow tube containing a colored liquid. At the back of each tube is a graduated index marked at intervals, “fire,” “light,” “water,” “brandy,” “towels,” etc., as may suit the average of customers. The respective tubes are connected by an air pipe, into which air is injected by the guest, to raise the liquid in the respective tubes to the point which indicates his wants.” (117)