Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Franklin E-Mails

Most Americans don't know that, around the same time Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocals, he also invented e-mail. It was a simpler Internet than we have now - what Franklin dubbed the "Intar-Web" - but it still allowed him to send brief missives to his colleagues and friends while living out his old age in Philadelphia.

Next year, a book will be published collecting all of Franklin's notable early communiques. Today, I'd like to present you all with some brief excerpts:

From: B. Franklin //poorrichard@foundingfather.net//
To: Gen. Washington //hatehessians@mtvernon.com//
Subject: Hello!
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 1784 20:40:37

Salutations, my old friend.

Have just invented this fabulous new Device. Now we can Speake with relative Ease across great distance, without need of Messenger, Quill or Parchment. Have no idea what I plan to Read messages on, as Computation Machines will not be invented for several centuries. But the idea itself Promises to rank among my most useful innovations, unlike that ill-fated kite-flying experiment that turned all my hair Whyte and has left me with ugly, chipped and Discoloured fingernails.

But before we can message Freely, I have devised a new Argot to make Intar-Web commentaries more Expedient. When one of my roguish commentaries encourages you to react in peals of joyous laughter, abstain from writing out "Your comment has provided me with Ample Merriment," and rather simply notate the abbreviation LOL, which I will take for Verificiation that you have, indeed, found some amount of Pleasure from my words.

Now I shall take my leave of you, as I must go and found the nation's first Zoological Garden, Postal Annex and museum named for Myself.

B. F.

From: B. Franklin //poorrichard@foundingfather.net//
To: Marquis de Lafayette //WeRHere@france.gov//
Subject: Bonjour!
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1784 11:44:06

Thank you for the lovely invitation to once more visit your wonderous native land, so Generous to our Revolutionary Cause of a few years back.

Regrettably, my Healthe has been on the Decline, and I feare I shan't be Able to Travel the great distance by charter.

One day, I predict, travel across great oceans will be quite symple and Affordable for all. In that time, probably about 10 score years from now (or thereabouts), the citizens of the Americas will Freely move back and forth between Europe and the New World all the time, and a greater understanding will be Fostered between our Continents.

The French, in particular, will always be remembered as our Great Allies and Friends, and we will never make fun of them or Change the name of some of their great cuisine just because of some Disagreement in policy.

Until that time, I remain, your friend...

B. F.

From: B. Franklin //poorrichard@foundingfather.net//
To: Samuel Adams //bstnlager@aol.com//
Subject: AOL? WTF?
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1788 07:55:08

Once more, my goode friend, I must urge you to drop this silly idea of putting all of America, as you call it, "On the Lines." This A.O.L. notion of yours will never come to Fruition, I feare, as the common American remains an Illiterate and Unsophisticated sort, more comfortable in an Agrarian setting than behind a complex Typing Machine. Now, if the Intar-Web offered, perhaps, Lithographs of a Burlesque nature, the commoner would find himself moure Intrigued by its varied potentialities.

I have been meaning to Speake with you, as I've had some general concerns about the Constitution we all wrote up a decade hence. Did you consider that, should Americans all begin to receive their news from a Single Source, say a popular daily periodical, they may all be Inclined to think in the same way? Such that, should a Wealthy man of Considerable Influence and Stature find his way into the Controlling Position of such a periodical, he could Sway the American public quite easily to Votes of benefit to his own Pecuniary Circumstances?

Even Worse, a man considering a run for President could use this single-sourced Media to Eliminate Dissent, thus Eradicating the Free and Democratic process we have spent these many years Perfecting.

These worries are potentially the work of an Overactive Mind grown Uneasy with advanced age. After all, the Public would hopefully reject any attempt by a Wealthy Man without Character or Substance to claim the highest office of power in the Land.

Your friend and colleague,
B. F.

From: B. Franklin //poorrichard@foundingfather.net//
To: Gen. Washington //woodtooth@aol.com//
Subject: Message from Beyonde the Grave
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 1798 04:55:22

George -

You may wonder how I could Compose a message to you via Intar-Web now that I have been deade for 8 years. You see, I was attempting to construct a Computation Device in order to reade responses to my various communications (what I have dubbed electronical typographic correspondances) when I somehow became trapped inside the machine, in a world known to me now as TRON.

I have been driving around in this odd "Blue Car" for several years now. It has long since grown tiresome, but I must performe the will of the so-called Master Control Program.

But this is not the Purpose of my Contact. I Wanted to know why you signed up with Adams' Ridiculous A.O.L. Programme? Surely you Realize that you could be simply logging on to the Intar-Web without paying Adams an additional fee for the Same Contente? I know he insists it is somehow more User-Kindly, but this is just Wise Marketing, and at a farthing plus a half-penny a month, you are getting totally hosed.

Way to go Stomping that Whiskey Rebellion, by the way. You still got it.

Your friend in time,
B. F.

1 comment:

Lons' Dad said...

Brilliant! What inspired you?