Posted on June 9th, 2010 by Nate
We’ve been working on a project down here in the 51 Eggs headquarters, building a series of contraptions to use in some album artwork. As a result, we’ve been scouring the interwebs looking for surplus and salvaged electronics. Along the way we found a place that was selling “Line Control Units” that were left over from WWII. These units were used to somehow control teletype machines out on the field.
When people say, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” they’re right. The build on this thing is incredible. Everything is bolted together. No molded plastic, no welds, but dozens and dozens of tiny nuts and bolts holding together thick gauge sheet steel. All the components are more like individual machines wired together in sequence, unlike today where everything is on a chip the size of a quarter. The object in itself seems almost absurd in it’s obsolescence, but what really blew my mind was the way this thing was packaged and shipped.
When we received the box it looked like any other, but then we realized that it was in the original box that had been unopened since 1944. The tape around the corners was the original seal, and as we started to open it, there were layers and layers of material to get through before we actually got to the device. Inside the first box was a linen bag, lined with wax paper, with another layer of some kind of metal foil. Inside that was another sealed box. Within that box there were a number of cardboard spacers that contained around a dozen stitched canvas bags full of an anti moisture compound. On top there was a printed envelope containing two technical manuals.
The manuals themselves are some 50 plus pages long, which seems a little overkill for a device that has only has one knob, two switches, and a meter. Inside there are various schematics and diagrams and there is a good section that describes in detail why, when, and how to destroy the equipment to prevent it falling into enemy hands. Incendiary grenades are actually a recommended method of destruction. At the bottom of the list, in bold capitals the manual insisted that the user, DESTROY EVERYTHING!
Below is a series of photos that shows the entire package as we opened it, and detail shots of the device.