Ahead of its time
Tiny Tube for Hearing Aids (Feb, 1947)

This tube is about the same size as an entire modern hearing aid.

Tiny Tube for Hearing Aids

Only 3/4-inch long and 3/8-inch wide, tubes like this powered such war devices as walkie-talkies and mine detectors. Now their maker, Sonotone, is using them in hearing devices. Three of them go into Sonotone’s latest instrument, which can be used for either low- or high-powered amplification.



So that a pedestrian may enjoy broadcast programs wherever he goes, a German, inventor, Alfred Mintus, has devised what he calls a “radio walking stick.” Outwardly it resembles an ordinary cane, but the interior contains a miniature receiver and batteries. The user has merely to plant the stick in the ground, adjust a pair of pocket ‘phones to his ears, and listen in, as illustrated in the photograph. It only remains now for the inventor to perfect the apparatus so the pedestrian need not interrupt his walk while listening in, a possibility foreseen by the inventor of the cane.

Miami Has an Electric Nervous System (Dec, 1955)

Miami Has an Electric Nervous System

CAPTAIN Verner Smith pushed the attitude lever and nosed the blimp down closer to the water. Now it was within 50 feet of choppy Biscayne Bay off Miami, Fla., so close that the trailing landing lines of the huge powered balloon almost touched the water. A loudspeaker in the cabin blared: “This is Miami Communications, Vern. What’s happening?”

The sun-browned pilot pulled a control and the blimp nosed up again. “He’s still struggling. Trying to hold onto his boat. Get the patrol boat here—fast.”

The loudspeaker talked again. “The police boat radios that he’s coming over. Stay directly overhead. He’ll sight on you.”


Guided by the blimp, a patrol boat of the Miami Police Department scudded to the rescue scene.

Putting Nature’s Power to Work (Aug, 1932)

Putting Nature’s Power to Work

Methods of Harnessing Natural Energy Described by DICK COLE

Upward of 40,000 inventions a year are granted patents by Uncle Sam, but not one of these offers a practical solution of the problem which scientists agree is the most pressing of them all— that is, how to harness natural sources of energy for power. Mr. Cole does not profess to have solved the problem, but the methods he describes here point out the trend of probable development.

WHAT is the most needed invention? Not television—not new kinds of airplanes—not speedier automobiles. Men of science are agreed that what the world needs most is a motor which converts the sun’s rays and other forms of natural energy into usable power. Orville Wright, Lee De Forest, Elihu Thomson, and other leading scientists are among those who proclaim the need for a new motor.

Radio Pen writes letters of fire on far-away screen (Dec, 1933)

Radio Pen writes letters of fire on far-away screen

By George H. Waltz, Jr.
CATHODE-RAY tube, having a phosphorescent screen, makes it possible to broadcast to a distance messages that can be read as fast as written

SWEEPING across a mysterious screen like an invisible pencil, a beam of electrons recently penned the message of welcome that opened the National Electrical and Radio Exposition in New York City.

Seated before a small black box, Clarence L. Law, president of the New York Electrical Association, wrote his official greeting with a pencil-shaped stylus. Simultaneously, in a far corner of the exposition hall, the words of his message flashed across a screen in glowing script. As though guided by some unseen hand, a weird green spot traced out the luminous letters of fire just as they were written. This was the first public demonstration of the latest wonder of science—the cathode-ray pen.

Batteries of Robots Scoop Power From Sea With Shovels (May, 1934)

Batteries of Robots Scoop Power From Sea With Shovels

A ROBOT wave motor designed to use the tremendous unharnessed power of waves at sea for generating eleetric power at low cost has been invented by Chester E. Shuler of Los Angeles.

Robot-like machines built in the sea on concrete foundations have huge metal shovel arms which are lifted upward by onrushing waves. The counter-balanced arms drive electric dynamos through speed-multiplying gears, so that a small movement of the arms spins the generators at high speed. Ratchets permit the shovels to drop down freely as the waves pass on, to be in readiness for following waves.

When a battery of these machines are installed to be operated together, the shovel arms are all inter-connected and belted to huge flywheels either on shore or in a powerhouse built in the ocean. Each on-rushing wave lifting the shovels would give a new impulse to the flywheels. The dynamos could thus run at almost constant speed.

Can Sex in Humans Be Changed? (Jan, 1937)

Can Sex in Humans Be Changed?

By Donald Furthman Wickets

ALL the old landmarks are going, nothing is static, everything flows. Old dreams and old nightmares become realities. Life is created in the laboratory. Sex is no longer immutable. Recently the astonishing news made the rounds that science had actually succeeded in changing the gender of two female athletes. The miracle was accomplished by surgery and duly acknowledged by law.

Mary Weston, who held (and still holds) the shotput record for women in Great Britain, is Case No. One. In 1926 Mary won the British javelin championship of her sex. “She” also, at one time or another, represented her country’s womanhood at the Olympic Games. Today, Mary Weston, now known as Mark Weston, is a young man legally and is happily married to a normal young woman. Dr. L. R. Broster, a London surgeon, certifies: “that Mark Weston, who has always been brought up as a female, is a male and should continue to live as such.” Discussing his athletic records before his transformation, Weston insists that he believed at the time that he was a woman.

Motorized Wheel Chairs Step Over Curbs and Climb Stairs (Jul, 1954)

Motorized Wheel Chairs Step Over Curbs and Climb Stairs

Two inventors—Ove Hauschild of Copenhagen, Denmark, and R. E. Church of Elkin, N. C.—have similar ideas about giving the wheel-chair patient more mobility. The Danish invention is an electric stair-climbing chair. Three small wheels connected by a vee belt rotate around each end of the axle. The chair will go up or down the steepest stairs, although an attendant is needed to steady the device. The
American vehicle is powered by a two-horsepower gasoline engine and enables the operator to ride over curbs, climb steep grades and negotiate twTo or three steps at a time—all without outside aid. On each side, a large wheel at the front is connected to a small rear wheel by a vee belt. In normal-travel position the vehicle rides on the two main wheels and a center tail wheel which turns for steering.

Bike Side Car for Baby Passenger (Jan, 1932)

Bike Side Car for Baby Passenger

AT A rally of bicycling enthusiasts held recently at Hedgerly, Buckinghamshire, England, a novel bicycle side car was demonstrated which makes it possible for parents to take along their infant offspring when they go for a ride in the country. This side car, shown above, is equipped with a single bike wheel, has a bed-shaped body, and is attached to the bike frame with a metal rod.


I have no idea if this worked, or if it was even real, but it sure does look cool. Recently Boston Dynamics has made a robot pack-mule that is somewhat similar.

Here is a later article in Mechanix Illustrated with little tanks that look somewhat similar.


A MECHANICAL horse that trots and gallops on steel-pipe legs, under the impulse of a gasoline engine, is the recent product of an Italian inventor. With this horse, he declares, children may be trained to ride. The iron Dobbin is said to canter along a road or across a rough field with equal ease. Its design recalls the attempts of inventors, before the days of the automobile, to imitate nature and produce a mechanical steed capable of drawing a wagon.