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"Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not."
- Isaac Asimov

  A pneumatic tube that carries people.  

I had to laugh just a little when I read this term.

Glowing signs named the farflung metropolitan districts, from Perth Amboy to Peekskill, from Long Islandís South Shore to the Raritan. Behind each a tubecar whined into its terminal trough, disgorged a half-dozen passengers, swallowed a half-dozen others from the head of the waiting line and vanished to be immediately replaced by another.

The whole system fanned out from this hub at the Old Cityís center.

Technovelgy from The Faceless Men, by Leo Zagat.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1948
Additional resources -

This is essentially a small urban capsule like the single car of a train.

The concept of pneumatic tubes as a means of delivering freight was not created by science fiction authors; it was originally proposed by George Medhurst, a London businessman in the early nineteenth century. Pneumatic tube system using small (six inch diameter) tubes were commonplace in the first part of the twentieth century in large buildings, or interconnected locations like hospitals.

I occasionally worked in a hospital tube room in the early 1970's; it was used to take doctor's orders from nursing stations to remote locations like the pharmacy, as well as send (carefully wrapped) blood samples to labs for analysis.

Imagine a ten by twenty foot room with open, padded troughs around three of the sides. The padded troughs were perhaps two feet deep and extended two feet from the side of the room. Directly above these padded troughs were the cylindrical tubes protruding from the ceiling, each one coming from a different nursing station or from a different department, like pharmacy or blood testing.

The room was at all times filled with a whooshing sound coming from the mostly closed ends of about fifty tubes leading into the room. Suddenly, you'd hear a distant clanging sound that would get louder - a pneumatic tube was coming in!

ping.. ping.. Ping.. Ping.. PING! PING! and then ka-chunk! the little door that sealed the tube would pop open and a tube would drop into the padded trough. The pinging sound came as the tube traveled through the pneumatic system; each ping meant that the messenger tube traversed a joint.

The attendant would read the cylindrical ring code, walk over the appropriate tube and insert it. Whoosh! off it would go.

I wonder if the people of Zagat's time got the joke, the idea of a commuter capsule with a half-dozen people in it popping out of a pneumatic tube system into a "trough" where it would come to a stop...

Compare to the submarine tube from An Express of the Future (1895) by Michel Verne, the sub-Atlantic tunnel from Ralph 124c 41 + (1911) by Hugo Gernsback, the air tunnel from Through the Air Tunnel (19129) by Harl Vincent, the pneumatic tube station from Exiles of the Moon (1931) by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat), the pneumatic-tube zone from Mechanocracy (1932) by Miles J. Breuer, the vacuum cylinder from Wandl, The Invader (2839) by Ray Cummings, the vortal tube from Whipping Star (1969) by Frank Herbert, the public vehicle tube from The Houses of Iszm (1954) by Jack Vance, the vacutubes from Double Star (1956) by Robert Heinlein and the bounce tube from Double Star (1956) by Robert Heinlein.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Faceless Men
  More Ideas and Technology by Leo Zagat
  Tech news articles related to The Faceless Men
  Tech news articles related to works by Leo Zagat

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