International hotels around 1900 were filled with inventions lavishly described in their promotional literature. Guests were assured that the air they breathed was the freshest possible, thanks to novel ventilation systems. Doors closed quietly on nonslamming hinges. Services were provided unobtrusively via the ‘servidor, a compartment in the room door accessible by small doors on either side (still in use at The Oriental in Bangok and at The Peninsula in Hong Kong, by the way).
Internal communication became increasingly sophisticated with telegraph devices, such as the Herzog Teleseme, which was invented to send instructions to the staff from a guest's room, long before telephones became a standard in every room. (Click on the Teleseme photo below to see an enlargement.)
The Teleseme was, as described in historic technical papers, a system of apparatus for electric signals to be transmissioned by moving an indicating finger or index of as many as 104 different buttons, each connected by a separate wire with the push button at the bottom of the device.
For example, guests could press for:
Attendant for my fire, my manservant, my maid
Hairdresser, chambermaid, my boots
Messenger (to send out)
Prepare my bathroom, hot water for basin, towels, soap
My mail, parcels, post cards, telegrams, stationery
The Herald, newspapers in French, English
My luggage is ready, bring my luggage, porter
Send frappée, bottle of soda water, drinking water, lemon squash, milk
Sherry, cognac, brandy and soda, wine
Cigars and cigarettes
I am coming down, show up visitor
Hurry my order
Do not disturb me
The first (or last) button was dedicated to the simple outcry HELP, fire, doctor!
The Herzog Teleseme systems of annunciators was built by Herzog Teleseme Co., 55 Broadway, New York.