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Edison’s Insomnia Squad (Apr, 1934)

With Edison’s Insomnia Squad
by Richard G. Berger

IT WAS during the summer of 1916 just after my graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that I read an article in Munsey’s Magazine concerning Thomas A. Edison and his “Insomnia Squad.” I immediately wrote to Mr. Edison requesting employment in his laboratory.

He was away on one of his annual Firestone-Burroughs vacation trips. Upon his return I received a letter stating that Mr. Edison offered me two weeks’ trial employment in his laboratory at fifteen dollars per week. I accepted—in fact I would have taken the position without salary—and reported to the laboratory at West Orange, fully expecting to be back home at the end of the two weeks.

The sight of Mr. Edison with several days growth of beard and dressed in baggy clothes, vigorously chewing tobacco, set me at ease. He assigned me to work on various problems of phonograph record composition and the manufacture of phenol (carbolic acid) which was then much in demand for both records and explosives.

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SCIENCE IS KING (Jun, 1938)

SCIENCE IS KING
“Men who made civilization what it is today were not famous statesmen, conquerors or philosophers. They were—and are—men engaged in the mechanical sciences”

BY LOWELL THOMAS

OVER the airwaves comes a desperate appeal to the radio station at Nome. “For God’s sake, send help, if you can. We’re starving and dying. There’s an epidemic. Almost everybody is flat in bed.”

“What do you need? Food?”

“Food, yes, and milk. But above all, serum. This whole settlement will be wiped out if we don’t get serum.”

By dog-sled and man-power it would take two weeks and a lot of luck to carry the needed supplies to that stricken community. But there is Joe Crosson with his plane. Can he make it? The problem is put up to him.

“We’ll do our durndest,” he replies, speaking for himself and plane.

We won’t go in to the trouble and danger he goes through. For one thing, it’s an old story to Joe Crosson. He has done it before probably will have to do it again several times. The point at this moment is that he does it. An entire settlement in the frozen North is saved from extinction.

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FOUND — King Solomon’s Gold Mines (Jul, 1936)

This is pretty rediculous. I particularly like the part about living in 167 degree heat.

FOUND — King Solomon’s Gold Mines

THE SECRET OF WAR-TORN ETHIOPIA
by JAMES NEVIN MILLER

COUNT BYRON DE PROROK, famous explorer, is again back in the United States after a series of adventures that would make an Arabian Nights fable seem weak and colorless in comparison. He was successful in locating the exact spot where the legendary King Solomon of Biblical fame once mined fabulous tons of gold.

More important, and perhaps the reason for the Italian hosts pushing their way into Ethiopia, these ancient mines are being worked today on a scale that staggers the imagination. From a volcanic mountain top, de Prorok beheld countless slaves, both men and women, toiling night and day to uncover the heavy golden nuggets.

But let this distinguished archaeologist tell his own almost unbelievable story:

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How Comic CARTOONS Make Fortunes (Nov, 1933)

How Comic CARTOONS Make Fortunes

The “funnies” you read every day bring $8,000,000 a year to a small group of 200 cartoonists. How they rose to the top and how you can enter their select circle is told here by leading comic artists.

THAT laugh you had today over your favorite funny strip is worth money— $200 to $1,000 a day to the cartoonist that made you chuckle.

His pen and ink characters are part of a great $8,000,000 industry that is far from overcrowded and that is practically depression proof.

Of the 200 successful cartoonists today the majority were not “born artists.” In many cases they were not artists at all, but just fellows with a knack for sketching who thought of a good idea or a funny character that “made a hit” with an editor and eventually with newspaper readers.

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The WHITE HOUSE Talks to the WORLD (Jan, 1938)

Amazing! If the President wants to talk to an admiral at Pearl Harbor the call can be connected in under 10 minutes!


The WHITE HOUSE Talks to the WORLD

WHAT might properly be called the “number one” telephone in the nation is listed in the Washington phone book as National 1414. This is the official home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Better served is he by telephone than any other person in the world. Better by far than any President we’ve ever had.

At any moment, day or night, Mr. Roosevelt can select any one of 150 phones and talk with friends, official emissaries of our government, in fact, anybody in almost any nation in the world. Sixty different countries are now linked by telephone service. These countries have an aggregate of over thirty million telephones, according to official estimates, of which some eighteen million are on the North American continent and over ten million in Europe.

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There’s plenty of room at the bottom (Nov, 1960)

This is a condensed version of a talk titled “There’s plenty of room at the bottom” that Richard Feynman gave in 1959. It is generally considered to be the first speech about nanotechnology.


There’s plenty of room at the bottom, says noted scientist as he reveals —
How to Build an Automobile Smaller than this dot -> .

At 42, Richard Phillips Feynman, Ph.D., enjoys world renown as a theoretical physicist, local fame as a “marvelous” performer on the bongo drums, and campus admiration as a man with a pixyish humor that turns a lecture on quantum electrodynamics into a ball. You’ll see why when you read his impassioned and witty plea to think small.

This tall, slim, dark-haired scholar helped importantly in developing the atomic bomb and watched its first test explosion. In 1954 he won the $15,000 Albert Einstein Award, one of the nation’s highest scientific honors.

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Information (Sep, 1952)

This article is the last in Scientific American series on Automatic Control. It covers Information theory and processing. It has some great tidbits such as primitive tagging system for books by Vanevar Bush that used binary coded descriptors on microfilm. Also I’d have to say the author deserves to gloat over this quote: “It is almost certain that “bit” will become common parlance in the field of information, as “horsepower” is in the motor field.”

Information

The surprising discovery that it is subject to the same statistical treatment as heat facilitates its storage and handling in automatic control systems

by Gilbert W. King

THE “lifeblood” of automatic control is information. To receive and act on information is the essential function of every control system, from the simplest to the most complex. It follows that to understand and apply automatic control successfully we must understand the nature of information itself. This is not as simple as it may seem. Information, and the communication of it, is a rather subtle affair, and we are only beginning to approach an exact understanding of its elusive attributes.

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Industrial Humaneer (Dec, 1946)

Very interesting article about the industrial designer Egemont Arens, who designed some of the classic consumer goods of the last century (some, like the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, are still available), and his philosophy of design, which sounds remarkably modern.


egmont arens -industrial “humaneer”

arens’ design’s got to look good, sound good, feel good, taste good, smell good, he asks, how easy is it on the nerves?

AFTER ten years of being one of the best industrial designers in the country, Egmont Arens has now become an expert “nerve specialist.” Arens has designed everything from a locomotive to a baby carriage, from a welding torch to a cigarette lighter, from a juke box to a toy horn, and what he has discovered is that the success of any designed object is determined basically by only one thing: how easy it is on the nerves.

Trapped in the nerve-jangling complications and tensions of present-day living, Arens believes that what modern man needs most are simplicity and relaxation in his surroundings. Instead of designing solely for “sales appeal”, or “esthetic presentation” therefore, Arens concentrates on designing an object to the “specifications” of the human system. He calls it “industrial humaneering.” Arens “humaneers” an object by giving it a color and contour which are relaxing to the eye, by giving it a texture and shape which are pleasing to the touch and inviting to the grasp, by muffling any noises which may jar on the ear, by eliminating any odors which may offend the nose, and lastly—if the object is, say, a reed musical instrument or a toothbrush—by making sure it is compounded of materials which figuratively, as well as literally, will leave the user with a pleasant taste in his mouth. After making it easy on the nerves, Arens completes his humaneering of the object by making it easy on the muscles. In designing, say, a household-cleaning appliance, he will use every trick in the book to insure that in lifting, carrying, cleaning, operating and storing the appliance, the user will be required to do just as little bending, stooping, squatting, reaching, and wrenching as possible.

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An Automatic Machine Tool (Sep, 1952)

This is the fourth in a series of 5 articles I’ve scanned from an amazing 1952 issue of Scientific American about Automatic Control. Discussing automatic machine tools, feedback loops, and the role of computers in manufacturing and information theory, these are really astounding articles considering the time in which they were written.

This article is a fascinating exploration of the history and state of the art in automatic machine tools as of 1952. This is the CAM in CAD/CAM.


An Automatic Machine Tool

Feedback control has begun to advance in the working of metals. Presenting the first account of a milling machine that converts information on punched tape into the contours of a finished part.

by William Pease

THE metal-cutting industry is one field in which automatic control has been late in arriving. The speed, judgment and especially the flexibility with which a skilled machinist controls his machine tool have not been easily duplicated by automatic machines. Only for mass-production operations such as the making of automobile parts has it been feasible to employ automatic machinery. New developments in feedback control and machine computation, however, are now opening the door to automatization of machine tools built to produce a variety of parts in relatively small quantities.

The problem will be clearer if we first review briefly the history of machine tools and their relationship to manufacturing processes. The story begins in the last quarter of the 18th century. Prior to that time the tools of the millwright, as the machinist of that day was called, consisted chiefly of the hammer, chisel and file. His measurements were made with a wooden rule and crude calipers. His materials were prepared either by hand-forging or by rudimentary foundry casting. Crude, hand-powered lathes were already in existence, but they were used only for wood-turning or occasionally for making clock parts.

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10,000 Miles of Trouble (Sep, 1949)

Ah, the valiant border patrol guarding us from “undesirable aliens”. It doesn’t seem like much has actually changed in the last 57 years.


10,000 Miles of Trouble

By Nick D. Collaer
Cheif, Border Partol Section, Immigration and Naturalization Service of the U.S. Department of Justice as told to James Nevin Miller

Here’s the Border Patrol Chief’s own story of our constant fight to keep smugglers of aliens from sneaking in with their human cargoes.

SMUGGLING aliens across our 10,000 miles of boundaries has become a big time enterprise!

Some of the crooks engaged in this illegal traffic are netting juicy fees for helping foreigners crash our gates—up to $1000 apiece for Mexicans, $1500 for Chinese and as much as $1600 for Central Europeans and Hindus.

The Border Patrol of your Immigration and Naturalization Service is confronted with an unprecedented situation in American history, especially along the 2000-mile Mexican border. There, 4600 foreigners, many of them of the most undesirable type, were caught by the San Antonio District officers in a recent two-day period!

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