Hello, my name is Jordan Ogdahl, and I am the team lead for the Digital Humanities side of the Hard Surface/Environment team. My team’s job is to come up with the best rooms and objects to be to be represented in Harvey, being that we don’t have the time to create every single room. We spend hours each week finding rooms and objects that are special to those rooms, along with as much information about them as possible to keep everything accurate and educational. Each object has its own special tie to UW–Stout’s history, and show what kind of amazing school it is. One item that I found particularly interesting and revolutionary for stout was the “Electro writer” device.
Long before our current age of cell phones and web messaging, people had to communicate long distances in ways feasible at the time. In the early 60s a device came about known as an Electro writer, which was basically a one-way fax machine. The device would run a metal sheet through, while the user would use the attached burning pen to make smart marks and write short words. During this process the user could also record alongside the written message either to go along with a recorded message, or narrate a live feed. The pen would complete an electric current that would burn images into the sheet, and then the same marks would appear on the receiver and could be projected for wider view.
This impressive object has been linked to UW–Stout’s distance education past, and President Micheel’s interest in “Tele-lecturing.” The electro writer gave Micheels the ability to educate other schools while remaining in Menomonie, and bring the knowledge that Stout has to offer across the country. Tele-lecturing was a new concept when Micheels introduced it to UW–Stout in the mid 60s, and it brought the school closer to the level of online/distance education we have today.
The photo above is of Micheels himself using the electro writer. In this photo he was lecturing to an education conference in Oregon. With the headset he had, he was able to communicate all the way to Oregon, and use the electro writer to illustrate his thoughts, all while being in Wisconsin at UW–Stout.