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The Cuban Missile Crisis

Teletypewriter RFT T-63 11 SU-12

The "hot wire" between Washington and Moscow

On June 20, 1963, eight months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union and the USA signed an agreement to establish a direct standby link between Washington and Moscow ("hot wire"). The inauguration took place on August 30, 1963. The equipment was located in the Pentagon in Washington and in the Kremlin in Moscow. They enabled both governments to make direct contact in the event of a crisis. This was intended to prevent an unwanted escalation of the conflict and reduce the risk of nuclear war.

The RFT T-63 11 SU-12 teleprinters used for the "hot wire" came from the GDR and were manufactured by VEB Gerätewerk Karl-Marx-Stadt. Their special feature was that the character set could switch between Latin and Cyrillic letters. This made it possible to send messages in English and Russian. To test the functionality of the devices, test messages were sent between the Kremlin and the Pentagon every hour during the Cold War. These test messages were mostly sentences that made no sense, but contained all the letters of the alphabet. The "hot wire" was first put to the test during the Six-Day War in 1967, when both sides used the telex to coordinate their actions and prevent the conflict from escalating.

More information on the establishment of the "hot wire" in 1963 can be found in the timeline of the Cuban Missile Crisis station.

Keyboard: latin / cyrillic keyboard switchable
Equipment plant: VEB Gerätewerk Karl-Marx-Stadt, GDR
Date of manufacture: Made from 1963, our copy from 1976

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