Which segues nicely onto another form of alternative communication, the Diskfax. The what? The Diskfax, dear heart. A fine and courageous attempt by a noble and exciting young UK company called Alfa Systems to create a whole new market about 15 years ago. About the size of three shoeboxes stacked up, it had a keypad and LCD display on top and a selection of disk drives on the front panel. You put your floppy in, dialled another Diskfax and the thing carefully duplicated the disk across the phone system. An exact analogy of a fax machine, but for disks.
Anyway, despite being fine, courageous, etc, the Diskfax didn't take over the world. It saw a lot of action -- armies, governments and other big and important groups liked it a lot -- and there was even a special cryptographic version, but it never got to critical mass. As a result of its commercial flaccidity, Alfa Systems had to lay off its noblest, most exciting, etc, programmers, one of whom was forced to become -- ugh -- a journalist. But that's another story.
However. Time passes, and it turns out that the Diskfax has been used in some really interesting official -- not to say shhhh -- capacities. So much so that Bletchley Park Museum, concerned as it is with official cryptography and its uses, has expressed an interest in acquiring a pair to show off. Which is terribly exciting for ex-Alfa Systems types -- if only they could lay their hands on some.
Investigations are ongoing, but if you know or have a suspicion about the location of such devices, do drop me a line. Myself and generations yet unborn will thank you wholeheartedly.