Handy-Talkie Time Traveler

It was an exciting discovery – a time traveler caught on camera.

About a year ago, a black and white film from 1938 surfaced on the internet, showing some cheerful people emerging from a building – possibly part of a factory – and one young brunette in the group is apparently chatting on a cellphone.

The Twittersphere and a flood of YouTube commenters quickly pegged her as someone from the future.

As a time traveler myself, I was riveted. (That’s how we build people in the future. I was also galvanized.) I hadn’t had a date in 32,000 years. I looked for the picture to check out the brunette and to see if Dr. Who’s time-traveling phone booth was somewhere in the background.

Mysteriously, the YouTube video showing all this had vanished.

Writing for Huffington Post, Meredith Bennett-Smith says the incident is far from unique. In 2010, someone came up with unreleased footage from a Charlie Chaplin film in which a woman in the background appears to be talking on her cellphone. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhA6cxtncgY)

Another one showed up in a 1973 Mexican film (I looked at it but couldn’t detect the traveler). And there was a photo of a 19th century man who is a dead ringer for Nicolas Cage. A long-dead ringer.

Cage insists he is neither a time traveler nor a vampire.

We live in a narcissistic culture. Uncounted texts, tweets, and Facebook posts chronicle every visit to the post office or the dentist. Not surprisingly, we think we’re so interesting that people from the future would move scientific mountains to visit us. The trouble is that the visitors noted in 1938 and 1929 videos are not from our future. They’re supposed to be people from right now, using our present version of the cellphone; but our present versions of time machines, star gates, or wormhole portals to send them back there don’t seem to be available.

Nor do we know how to send back a network of transmitting towers so that the cellphones would be workable.

During the Korean War, our soldiers were talking to each other over the ANPRC-6 Walkie Talkie. Before that, there was the Handy-Talkie used by soldiers in WWII. And leading up to that – certainly by 1938 – there were various prototypes of these portable two-way radios being developed and tested, for example around factories. They didn’t need WiFi – just radio waves.

True, they were a good deal bulkier than an iPhone, but those were the two-way versions. A portable radiophone designed to receive but not send could have been much smaller, even then — long before transistors and Moore’s Law pointed the way to miniaturization.

A YouTube commenter using the name Planetcheck recently announced that the 1938 time traveler was actually his grandmother. He says grandma was 17 years old and working for DuPont at a factory where they were testing equipment for a proposed in-plant communications system.

That can’t be true. It’s too boring. I think Planetcheck is a time traveler engaged in a massive cover-up.

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About Al

Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.