In Which The Irish Invent Twitter, 1984


And email.

And the fax machine.

Found in the bowels of the EU broadcasting archives.

Gay Byrne introduces a new invention from a company called TextTel from Ennistymon, Co Clare, on The Late Late Show in May,1984. And uses it to send a self-deprecating proto-Tweet (3.30).

The nameless invention had been ordered by the thousand, mostly from the US, Textel’s founder Kevin Neville tells Byrne.

Anyone know what happened next?

Watch here.

Thanks Jack Jones

10 thoughts on “In Which The Irish Invent Twitter, 1984

  1. other david

    This was a great device ahead of its time… and it found an interesting use.

    Philips saw the potential of the device and it wound up being sold by them and used, by amongst others – the Dutch government.

    They improved the encryption capabilities of the device and ultimately it played a role in relaying messages to the incarcerated Nelson Mandela:

    “On 11 February 2010, the Dutch TV program Andere Tijden, aired a 25 minute special about Operation Vula [3]. In the interview, Connie Braam explains how she contacted an engineer who worked for Philips at the time. He suggested the PX-1000 for secure communication, which was subsequently used to send messages to Nelson Mandela via Amsterdam and London. ”

    For more on this:

    1. Ewok

      Thank you, Other David. really interesting. Kevin Neville mentions the invention was “designed” by his engineers and the “micro electronic applications centre in Limerick”. Is that the university?

      1. other david

        I really have no idea – I’m a bit of radio geek and am interested in encryption, so I was just browsing the Crypto Museum website a few months back and stumbled across this device.

        I checked up on the company and they seem to be long kaput – if I remember right, there’s a LinkedIn profile which could be that of the inventor – perhaps contact him for more information?

        To me it’s astonishing someone here in Ireland made something so capable and ahead of its time… but was completely forgotten about, at least until now :)

        In truth a device like this should have been bought up by Telecom Eireann, Department of Foreign Affairs & the Army by the thousand – with the improved encryption.

        Why? Well when you make the encryption machines, you can you trust them more.. unlike when you buy them off the shelf.. even from a company of a neutral nation.

        Otherwise this happens:

        “During the sensitive Anglo-Irish negotiations of 1985, the NSA’s British counterpart, the gchq, was able to decipher the coded diplomatic traffic being sent between the Irish embassy in London and the Irish Foreign Ministry in Dublin. It was reported in the Irish press that Dublin had purchased a cryptographic system from Crypto AG worth more than a million Irish pounds. It was also reported that the NSA routinely monitored and deciphered the Irish diplomatic messages”

        Anyway – really got a kick out of seeing this posted here, thought I was the only one who cared – thanks!

  2. Jack Ascinine

    Had to get permission from the Post Office… Bloody Post Office is still the centre of the universe in 2012. Great clip. Thanks for posting.

  3. mike

    Impressive piece of broadcasting/hosting by Byrne. He makes the segment entertaining and informative at the same time. He certainly was a talent.

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