Friday, April 25, 2008

DC's TARDISes... TARDISii... um.

See these things in the picture? You see them scattered all over Washington DC and a number of other cities. They were installed shortly after the Civil War.

Some were fire boxes. There was a mechanism sort of like a music box inside. You smacked a button, tripped the release, a spring started to unwind turning a cylinder with pins on it, the pins made contact with metal strips completing a circuit, this sent a signal to the fire station who came to put out the fire. Each booth had a unique ID that was what the pins on the cylinder sent to the fire station.

Some were Police Boxes. They had telephones inside so that police could report in and people could call for help. They had rings on them so you could handcuff perps to it until the padded wagon came along to take them away. With the advent of personal radios in the 1970's these booths were taken out of service.

The Brits picked up on our Police Boxes and started to develop their own. Instead of phones on posts they made little prisons with a phone on the front. The best known model of these was made of concrete, formed on the spot, and weighed 3 tons. They were also the basis for the time machine used in the BBC television show "Doctor Who". These booths were still common enough when the show started in 1963 but were on the way out. The pilot episode had it parked in a dump.

There are still a few of these left around the greater London area. Like this one outside Earls Court tube station. They remain not because they're useful but because Doctor Who made them popular enough that tourists and locals alike object to their removal.


Shannon said...

I never knew there was a Tardis history lesson to be had! My inner geek is thrilled.

Ibid said...

Why haven't I asked you out yet?

Ibid said...

Ah, I remember. You're seeing Some Call Me Tim. Foo.

Shannon said...

Hey, the Sorcerer Tim is awesome. He's great when we're stuck in traffic, he just blows up the other cars. But the horns and cape mean that we get some funny looks in restaurants.

What? I'm a stealth nerd.

Ibid said...

Oh. So when I hear about a car fire on the radio first thing in the morning that's you.