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"Science and science fiction, how do you even distinguish the two?"
- Jerry Pournelle

Suction Mail Tube  
  An evacuated tube system carrying mail to residences.  

She had opened the suction mail tube and there was the metal foil advertisement: ROME AND THE BORGIAS! THE WRIGHT BROTHERS AT KITTY HAWK! Travel in Time, Inc., can costume you, put you in a crowd during the assassination of Lincoln or Caesar! We guarantee to teach you any language you need to move freely in any civilization, in any year, without friction. Latin, Greek, ancient American colloquial. Take your vacation in Time as well as Place!
From The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury.
Published by Doubleday in 1951
Additional resources -

The original pneumatic capsules were created in the 1830's and used primarily for quickly sending telegrams from telegraph offices to nearby business buildings.

However, Bradbury is proposing (apparently) to have similar networks connecting all of our houses, which would be a fun idea. However, given my experience with tube networks in hospitals (where they are used to transport small specimens and paperwork), they need constant fiddling and repair work, and an entire city full of tube networks might be more of a hassle than a benefit.

Compare to the vacutubes and the bounce tubes from Robert Heinlein's Double Star (1956); Heinlein was another fan of the pneumatic tube system idea.

This comes from his short story The Fox and the Forest, which is a part of The Illustrated Man story collection.

Thanks to Connor Lawrence for submitting this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Illustrated Man
  More Ideas and Technology by Ray Bradbury
  Tech news articles related to The Illustrated Man
  Tech news articles related to works by Ray Bradbury

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