Ahead of its time
Radio Robot Squirts Out 3 a Minute (Apr, 1948)

Radio Robot Squirts Out 3 a Minute

A COMPLETE radio set every 20 seconds is the production goal of this new British automatic machine known as ECME (Electronic Circuit Making Equipment). Nearing completion at the research laboratories of Sargrove Electronics, Ltd., this automaton uses the sprayed-circuit technique to do the jobs of a double line of skilled workers. Wiring mistakes are eliminated, and the machine even makes its own tests, signaling the location of any defects in the circuit.

Plastic plates are fed into each end of the two parallel rows of electronic units shown in the photograph at the top of p. 160. As the plates move down the line, all the necessary inductances, capacitors, resistors, and potentiometer tracks are “built up.” After lacquering, other units automatically insert rivets, eyelets, and studs. When two plates are joined together at the end of the line, they form a complete radio receiver except for a few parts such as electrolytic condensers, tubes, and loudspeaker, which are added by hand. It is claimed that the sets will be both lighter and sturdier than those made with wired circuits.

Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years (Feb, 1950)

This is a pretty fun article that does a pretty mediocre job of predicting the future. Must have been those damn labor-unions that held everything back. My favorite prediction is that used underwear will be recycled into candy.

Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years

By Waldemar Kaempffert

Science Editor, The New York Times

WHAT WILL the world be like in A.D. 2000? You can read the answer in your home, in the streets, in the trains and cars that carry you to your work, in the bargain basement of every department store. You don’t realize what is happening because it is a piecemeal process. The jet-propelled plane is one piece, the latest insect killer is another. Thousands of such pieces are automatically dropping into their places to form the pattern of tomorrow’s world.

The only obstacles to accurate prophecy are the vested interests, which may retard progress for economic reasons, tradition, conservatism, labor-union policies and legislation. If we confine ourselves to processes and inventions that are now being hatched in the laboratory, we shall not wander too far from reality.

Your Telephone Of Tomorrow (Sep, 1956)

Usually old articles of the form “Your x of tomorrow” be it house, car, phone, city, plane, etc are full of ideas that are wildly off the mark or just plain ridiculous. This article about the future of phones is remarkable because virtually everything in it has come true. Worldwide Direct Touchtone Dialing, Transistorized Switching, Audio/Video data compression, Voice Recognition and rampant miniaturization. All true. Not to mention that a tiny, touchtone, color videophone you can watch TV on is a pretty accurate description of my Motorola RAZR.

I also love the idea that everyone will get a phone number at birth and keep it for the rest of their life. If you call someone and they don’t pick up, you’ll know they’re dead. Or perhaps just sleeping.

Your Telephone Of Tomorrow

Future may bring push-button dialing, videophones, direct calls anywhere on earth and pocket-size sets.

By Robert G. Beason

ON SOME night in the future a young man walking along Market Street in San Francisco may suddenly think of a friend in Rome. Reaching into his pocket, he will pull out a watch-size disc with a set of buttons on one side. He will punch ten times. Turning the device over, he will hear his friend’s voice and see his face on a tiny screen, in color and 3-D. At the same moment his friend in Rome will see and hear him.

The disc will be a telephone, a miniature model equipped for both audio and video service. Back in 1952, Harold S. Osborne, retiring chief engineer of American Telephone & Telegraph, envisioned this tiny instrument as the ultimate shape of the phone. In the future, said Mr. Osborne, a telephone number will be given at birth to every baby in the world. It will be his for life. When he wants to call anyone, no matter where, he will merely push the buttons on his Lilliputian phone.

MONORAIL Comes of Age (Feb, 1946)

MONORAIL Comes of Age


IMAGINE boarding a sleek, gleaming car and speeding to your office or home at 200 miles an hour—noiselessly and without a jar! Imagine living out in the wide open spaces where you’ve always wanted to live, away from the crowds and smoke and noise of cities—even a hundred miles distant from your work, yet only a half-hour commuting-time away.

Imagine crossing the continent in nine hours at 300 miles an hour, at a cost of not more than a cent a mile!


While its owner sits comfortably on his porch, a new farm tractor operated by radio control plows his field for him. Radio impulses governing the tractor’s movements are supplied by an automatic radio transmitter, and are picked up by an antenna on the tractor. A receiving set starts the tractor’s engine, works the throttle and controls the steering. The new robot, exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair, is an improved model developed after earlier experiments.

A New Switch for Electrics (Jul, 1973)

A New Switch for Electrics

A NEW day is dawning for the electric vehicle, now that its proponents are thinking about goals other than taking over what Fords and Chevies and Plymouths have been doing.

The electric will succeed only where it can do its own thing, where it can perform better than gas-guzzlers. Hauling a family from here to Chicago or Los Angeles is not what it does best.

ASCII Art in 1939 (Jun, 1939)

Yes, I know the ASCII standard wan’t established until 1967, but it’s the same general idea.

Typewriter Artist Produces Pictures Like Tapestry
Pictures that resemble tapestry are produced with a typewriter by Rosaire J. Belanger, a mill worker in Saco, Me. Belanger first draws a pencil sketch on a sheet of paper, then inserts it in his typewriter and fills in the sketch with various characters to produce shading and outlines. With carbon paper, he transfers the picture onto graph paper, and copies it on blank paper.

Are These GM’s Cars of Tomorrow? (Aug, 1950)

Wow, this one comes with a robot!

Are These GM’s Cars of Tomorrow?

By Bernard W. Crandell

PROBABLY you’ll never see any of the fanciful sketches on these pages coming down a production line or in your dealer’s salesroom. Nobody at GM intends that you should. The sports car designs here are an important phase of automobile styling done by the General Motors Styling Section and the sketches fulfill a function of professional car designing for which there is no substitute—uninhibited creativeness and daring imagination.

Walk on Air With New Boots (Sep, 1934)

All of us, tricked by the Reebok conspiracy.

Walk on Air With New Boots

A RUBBER boot which at lastenables man to walk on air has recently been perfected by an English inventor.

Rubber bladders have been built into the boot both at the heel and the sole, with a rubber tube leading from the air bladders to the top of the boot. An ordinary tire pump can be attached to the rubber tube for filling the boots with air.

Sponsors claim that those wearing the new boots get a delightful sensation of walking on air. In addition, the air cushion is more comfortable, preventing blisters.

1977: Bally Home Library Computer – Early E-Commerce (Sep, 1977)

“This is the story of an incredible product. So incredible that we know of no future consumer product that will have such a far-reaching technological impact on society.”

This is a ridiculously over-hyped ad for the Bally Home Library Computer, a fairly interesting if somewhat unsucsessful game console/home computer system. The $10,000 IBM 5100 computer they are constantly comparing it to was actually a full-on portable workstation with a keyboard, CRT, and tape drive that was capable of emulating an IBM mainframe. I am sure, however, that the Bally had better games.

One really interesting thing is the mention of the DIAL-A-BARGAIN® ORDERING SYSTEM:
“Our technicians have programmed JS&A’s main computer so you can use the Bally to access our computer directly when Bally’s dual tape decks become available. With a special module and cassette, you will be able to 1) call our computer on our toll-free number, 2) place an order, and 3) find out when it will be shipped. Since you communicate directly with our computer, your order is processed immediately and can be shipped within a few hours after receipt.”

I don’t know if they ever actually deployed this system, but if they did it would be an impressively early and complete eCommerce system.