Archive
Impractical
MAIL VIA ROCKET (Jan, 1957)

MAIL VIA ROCKET

A missile expert predicts rocket mail by 1965. Here are MI’s ideas on how the system could function.

By Frank Tinsley

IT’S Friday noon. In the home office of a giant New York corporation the final drafts of a secret merger are being signed. If they can be signed by the party of the second part in San Francisco and be back here in the office before the stock market closes—so that “buy” orders can be rushed to dealers throughout the country—a possible Monday financial slump can be averted. The atmosphere is tense. A micro- photo machine has been moved into the president’s office and a trusted operator inserts the sheets, one by one. Two tiny prints of each emerge, one for the files and one for mailing.

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Patents Nutty or Novel? (Nov, 1929)

Patents Nutty or Novel?

Almost all of the 40,000 inventions patented each year by Uncle Sam are workable devices—but as to being practical, that’s something else again. The inventions pictured on these pages, all of them taken from patent office records, are somewhat funnier but no less impractical than a large number of devices which their inventors see fit to protect with a patent. Read ‘em and weep!

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Vacuum Cleaner Purifies Air (Dec, 1938)

Wouldn’t this be a bit loud?

Vacuum Cleaner Purifies Air
Small enough to rest on a bedside table, a vacuum cleaner now on the market has a special attachment that makes it useful for purifying the air in a sick room. Employing turbine-type blades instead of the conventional revolving fan to create suction, the unit draws room air in through a nozzle and passes it through a “germ trap” said to remove any dust and other impurities it may contain.

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Cops’ COLD FEET Heated by electricity (Jun, 1932)

Cops’ COLD FEET Heated by electricity

CLOTHED in a new electrically heated uniform, recently developed by the General Electric Company, a policeman can stand at street intersections directing traffic all day long in the coldest weather and keep as warm as if he were inside.

Several thin rubber strips about 1/2 inch wide and very flexible, with a heating element vulcanized inside, are sewed into the uniform, and thin insoles of the same material are fitted in the shoes. These are connected by small insulated wires to metal plates attached to the heels of the shoes, the positive wire leading to one foot and the negative to the other.

If cold, the officer merely steps on two insulated plates set flush with the pavement. One plate is connected to the positive terminal of a 12-volt storage battery placed in a box below the plates, and the other to the negative terminal. The sole plates form the contacts and within 15 seconds the heating units begin to warm up.

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Pleasure-Tower Half Mile High (Jul, 1933)

Pleasure-Tower Half Mile High

Towering almost half a mile above the ground, dwarfing such gigantic structures as the Empire State Building and the Eiffel tower, a huge concrete tower 2300 feet high, surmounted with a beacon and built with a spiral ramp for autos to climb up its sides, stuns the imagination with its vastness. It is the design of the French engineer, M. Freyssinet, intended for the 1937 Paris Exhibition.

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Unique Bus of Future to Duplicate Speed of Railroads (Jun, 1930)

Where exactly would you drive this?

Unique Bus of Future to Duplicate Speed of Railroads

RECENT developments in everything that moves has caused many flights of imagination. Thus the fancy conjures up a bus to keep pace with other transportation. The bus between New York and San Francisco will be equipped with airplanes for trips not on the regular schedule. For diversion, billiard rooms, swimming pool, dancing floor and a bridle path would be available. The pilot would be “enthroned” over his engines, with the radio above. Space for autos would be afforded by the deck.

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“MEMORY MACHINE” KEEPS TAB ON NUMBERS FOR POLICE (Jun, 1935)

It’s not exactly clear from the description but it seems like this machine stores one number at a time. Then you punch in a list of numbers and if one of them matches it rings a bell. I’m not sure how this is better than just writing the number down and comparing it to a list.

“MEMORY MACHINE” KEEPS TAB ON NUMBERS FOR POLICE

Once “told” to remember, a new machine gives a “reply” in less than two seconds, helping police to keep tab on automobile license-plate numbers, serial figures on money and fingerprints. To use it, the operator punches out a pattern containing the number which is to be “remembered” by the machine.

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Repairing Airplanes Inflight, From the Outside (Jun, 1930)

It sure would suck if you dropped something.

Youthful Miami Inventor Blazes Another Trail in the Safety of Flying

ONE of the difficulties of air travel is the impossibility of making repairs outside of the cockpit while the ship is in flight. This holds particularly true when the trouble is centered about the tail. James Terry, inventor, of Miami, Fla., is shown demonstrating his safety device which makes it possible to make repairs without landing.

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Why Don’t We Build An Atoms-For-Peace Dirigible (Mar, 1956)

Why Don’t We Build An Atoms-For-Peace Dirigible

Here is a bold plan for displaying peacetime uses of the atom to the peoples of the world.

By Frank Tinsley

EARLY last year, President Eisenhower asked the Congress for funds with which to build a fission-powered merchant ship for the global spread of peaceful atomic knowledge.

“Visiting the ports of the world,” the President stated, “the ship will demonstrate to people everywhere the peacetime use of atomic energy, harnessed for the improvement of human living.”

In Washington, the basic idea of a floating exhibit of American fission techniques was received with general approval by members of the Congress. Some of the plan’s technical aspects, however, generated a bit of discussion. To avoid protracted experimental research and thus speed the ship launching date, it was originally decided to fit the vessel with a duplicate of the power plant used in the atomic submarine Nautilus.

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Phonograph Disks Run Crewless War Tank (Nov, 1934)

Phonograph Disks Run Crewless War Tank

Machines can execute complicated maneuvers and return after their mission has been performed WITH the discovery by a French scientist that phonograph disks can be used to record mechanical movement as well as sound, the dream of airplanes and tanks that operate by remote control is brought nearer to realization. The practicability of completely automatic control was demonstrated recently at Paris where an electric truck started, changed its course, backed up, reversed its direction, and finally stopped without the guidance of a human hand. Phonograph records, used in the experiment, could guide a torpedo into a fortified harbor to destroy an enemy battleship; or drive a tank against enemy machine gun nests, rake them with fire and return the tank to its own trenches. The movements of the torpedo or tank would be carefully calculated in advance. A master control arm on a recording device would then be manipulated to create electric impulses corresponding in timing to the desired evolutions of a complicated maneuver. An electric pick-up would convert these impulses into mechanical energy and the needle of the pick-up would impress them on the disk.

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