Archive
Ahead of its time
The Handy Uses of a Home Computer ()

This family gives new meaning to the term “early adopter”. Though at $7.50 an hour ($40 in 2007 dollars) it would almost be cheaper to send the kid to a casino to play blackjack.

The Handy Uses of a Home Computer

* Planning a dinner menu
* Balancing bank accounts
* Doing school homework
* Figuring out income tax
* Printing invitations
* Keeping the budget

Computers for the home have been envisioned by science fiction writers and engineers ever since a huge, unwieldy prototype was developed 25 years ago. The whole futuristic age they prophesied, with an omnipotent electronic monster named Horace in every living room, is still a long way from realization, but compact consumer computers have quietly entered the household. While the market hardly rivals TV sets or refrigerators, the computer-as-home-appliance is now more than just a toy for the wealthy or a mysterious instrument for technical specialists.

.
THE NATIONAL DATA CENTER AND PERSONAL PRIVACY (Nov, 1967)

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found this magazine on eBay. I thought that the author was this Arthur Miller. An article about the personal privacy threats inherent in massive government databases, written by the author of the Crucible sounded amazing. It turns out that the author was actually this Arthur Miller, and I don’t think anyone could have done a better job.

This is the most amazingly prescient article I’ve ever read. When people write about the future they are usually wrong. When people write about the future of computers, they are usually even more wrong. This article got everything right. If you changed the tense and a few bits of jargon, then handed to me and told me it was written by the EFF, I’d believe it.

Just to give you an idea of how right he was on even the basic computer stuff, here’s the second paragraph of the article. Keep in mind that this is what desktop computers looked like in 1967.

“The modern computer is more than a sophisticated indexing or adding machine, or a miniaturized library; it is the keystone for a new communications medium whose capacities and implications we are only beginning to realize. In the foreseeable future, computer systems will be tied together by television, satellites, and lasers, and we will move large quantities of information over vast distances in imperceptible units of time.”

Forty-one years ago Arthur R. Miller laid out all of the privacy threats that we face now. The power that credit reporting databases have over us. The illegal government use of our financial and phone records. The attempt to build a master database tying all of these together. The fact that the government might consider you a threat if you so much as sent a Christmas card to someone the government has on a watch list. It’s all here. He basically predicted and laid out all of the arguments against the Total Information Awareness program and the current NSA programs that have been so much in the news.

It’s nice to know there were people who were so ahead of the curve in trying to protect our rights, and it’s a tragedy that more people didn’t listen. I think it speaks strongly to the need to pay attention to this stuff now, because this problem will only get worse.

THE NATIONAL DATA CENTER AND PERSONAL PRIVACY

by ARTHUR R. MILLER

The computer age is not to be stayed, as anyone knows who has been billed for another citizen’s charge account or has wondered what has happened to his paid-up magazine subscription. The computer science is already so advanced that experts envisage a huge National Data Center to speed and simplify the collection of pertinent information about Americans. Properly run, it could be a boon. But any person who has seen an FBI file or been party to a U.S. government “security check” has reason to know how the abuse or misuse of dossiers of unevaluated information can threaten an individual’s rights. A professor of law at the University of Michigan here discusses the precautions necessary to protect citizens from “governmental snooping and bureaucratic spinelessness or perfidy.”

.
Animated Statue Smiles and Displays Her Dimples (Jun, 1934)

For some reason, this strikes me as looking amazingly modern.

Animated Statue Smiles and Displays Her Dimples

ALMOST human is “SHE,” work of Courtenay Pollock, well known sculptor of London. With the aid of a small electric motor, “SHE” is smiling, coy, demure, or scornful as her master wills. Rolling her eyes about in an enchanting manner, she even displays a lovely set of dimples.

This “living” model is on display in one of the leading department stores of London. A cordon of police are required to keep the crowd moving and traffic clear in the streets.

.
CORN SUGAR IS MADE CHEAPLY TO COMPETE WITH CANE (Mar, 1924)

They certainly got this one right.

CORN SUGAR IS MADE CHEAPLY TO COMPETE WITH CANE
Corn sugar, that costs no more than cane, has been turned out by a process developed by H. C. Gore, a department of agriculture chemist. It is said that the product can be melted and cast into molds, like the fondant made from cane or beet sugar, and used in the candy industry. The operation involves no unusual equipment, and consists essentially of mashing cornstarch, or hominy, with malt, which liquefies the product.

.
Steampunk Remote Controled Train (Nov, 1936)

Robot Engine Built in Japan Is Driven by Remote Control

Automatic train control is understood to be a feature of a mysterious robot locomotive model built in Japan. Streamlined, but of a design unlike any conventional locomotive, the details of its mechanism have not been revealed. It is believed, however, that it will be operated electrically by remote control and will be equipped with a braking mechanism which will stop it automatically if the rails ahead become dangerous.

.
SCIENCE ON THE MARCH (Jan, 1952)

Compton gives a nice history of the rise of American science and engineering prowess as well as making some pretty good predictions here.

Some answers to this question seem clear, and others seem very uncertain. It is safe to predict that the 2002 person will be clothed with synthetic textiles which will not fade, shrink or wrinkle and in which the desired creases will stay put. Atomic energy will be in use for special, but not for general, power purposes. Gasoline will be coming more from oil shale than from oil wells, and may be already produced commercially from coal. Cancer may then be as well under control as tuberculosis is now. Television may have proved to be an instrument to perpetuate dictatorship, or to make the democratic process more effective, depending on the trends of control and public concern.

Cancer is certainly not under control, though we do have much better treatments and shale oil is only now starting to take off but he nailed clothes, atomic power and TV.

As an aside; the design of this article is really nice, however, for people who are supposed to predict the future I wish the PM’s designers would have shown a little consideration for schmucks like me who have to scan their articles. Why didn’t they realize that putting an illustration of balloons behind the text of the article would play havoc with my already finicky OCR software? (Lest you think I’m picking on PM, Modern Mechanix also had a nasty habit of doing this.

SCIENCE ON THE MARCH
By Dr. Karl T. Compton

Chairman of the Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology THE AMERICAN TRADITION of mechanical skill and inventiveness, often called “Yankee Ingenuity,” goes far back of the turn of this century. It grew out of the challenge of pioneer life to a people of high native intelligence engaged in forging a new way of life in an environment of rich but undeveloped resources. But our development of scientific knowledge and its useful applications is, despite a few notable predecessors like Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Henry and Thomas Edison, essentially an achievement of the last 50 years.

.
“QUESTION SHOP” GIVES ANSWER TO ANY TELEPHONED QUERY (Jun, 1924)

What they don’t mention is that the fellow in the picture is named Marcus Googlethorpe.

“QUESTION SHOP” GIVES ANSWER TO ANY TELEPHONED QUERY

Offering to answer any reasonable question telephoned to its office, a firm dealing in general information is said to have set up business in New York City. Subscribers to the service are permitted to put as many queries to the “question shop” as they desire. Each patron is given a code name and. it is reported, can receive aid from the station at any hour of the day or night. It is also claimed that eighty per cent of the queries do not require more than two minutes for an answer.

.
DOES GRASS HOLD SECRET of HIDDEN POWER? (May, 1935)

DOES GRASS HOLD SECRET of HIDDEN POWER?

“BOSS KET”

Charles F. Kettering, known as “Boss Ket” to his fellow workers, is chiefly interested in finding the answers to unanswered questions. Two of the foremost that have puzzled him are: “Why is grass green?” and “Why can we see through a pane of glass?”

Head of the General Motors Research Corporation, “Boss Ket” devotes practically all his time to research, to discovering how it can be done when experts and formulas say “It can’t be done.”

.
OUTLAWS MAY USE SUPER-STATIONS at Sea (Mar, 1934)

Using offshore systems to subvert a communication network to deliver ads for gambling, controlled substances and quack cures. Sure sounds like spam to me.

OUTLAWS MAY USE SUPER-STATIONS at Sea

Broadcasting stations without a country seek new ways to flood the United States with radio advertising barred by federal commission. Two hundred outlaws face war by the government.

by MURPHY McHENRY

RADIO circles on the Pacific Coast were turned topsy turvy not long ago by the; continued presence of a radio pirate ship which had taken unto itself a very popular spot on the dial and started broadcasting without regard for the land stations with which it interfered.

The primary purpose of the unlicensed broadcast station was to advertise the gambling, liquor, and other dubious pleasure activities of the ship upon which it was built—all these activities beyond the 12-mile limit, of course. Thousands responded to the advertising and the owners waxed rich. They found other sundry rackets, such as a fortune telling program, which brought in additional money and finally assumed such an extensive program that one Los Angeles station was threatened with; a complete loss of audience and business because the ship’s radio signal was the more powerful of the two.

.
Vest-Pocket Telephones (Jun, 1939)

Vest-Pocket Telephones

A telephone that can be carried about and used anywhere without connecting wires is a possibility in the near future. Research on the project has been carried on for several years by the Southern California Telephone Company and, according to latest reports, is now nearing practical application.

.