Mother Could Fix This Radio (Jan, 1948)

This is an interesting harbinger of the huge wave changes that occurred in the electronics industry in the 50 years after this article was published. What they’ve done here is essentially modularized an entire radio into plug and play components. Their reason for doing this was to make repair simpler, but now everything is designed that way so you can use standardized components and simplify assembly. If hundreds of different devices uses the same oscillator (or Ethernet controller for that matter) you can make them a lot cheaper.

Mother Could Fix This Radio

PSM photos by Robert F. Smith

YOU don’t need to know a coil from a condenser to fix this radio. Throw-away units, as easy to change as radio tubes, contain practically everything that might go wrong in the set. Six “canned” circuits with pronged bases, designed to retail in department stores at $1.85 apiece, replace the maze of wiring located in back of the dial of a conventional radio.

Electrical Air Cleaning (Feb, 1938)

This device was also highlighted in Modern Mechanix (Ionic Breeze ’38)

Electrical Air Cleaning

Air almost 100 percent free from dirt particles and other substances is obtained when it is passed through a new electrostatic air filter. The device charges the particles which then cling to magnetic plates through which the air is passed. The result is absolutely or relatively absolutely pure air and a new method of relief for those suffering with ailments that are aggravated by foreign matter of any kind in the air. The operation of the device is so perfect that in operation it will even remove smoke from the air. Its effectiveness is shown in the illustration of the demonstration model.

Speeders Are Timed By Robot Cop (Oct, 1935)

Speeders Are Timed By Robot Cop

RUTHLESS speeders, driving with one eye on the rear vision mirror for signs of a trailing traffic officer, now have a new enemy to watch out for, a robot speed meter which instantly gauges the speed of a car on the highway.

The speed meter is small, and can easily be moved from one place to another. On one side of the road is an apparatus which directs two parallel beams of light, invisible to the driver, upon a mechanism on the opposite side of the road. The length of time taken by a car to intercept both beams of light is shown in terms of miles per hour on the meter.


This seems like a poor design. Wouldn’t you want to put all the lock and bell mechanism on the inside of the door to prevent tampering? Also a combination lock with “dozens” of possible combinations does not exactly inspire confidence.

No key is required to operate a novel electric door lock, recently exhibited in Chicago, Ill. The user merely has to push the right buttons selected from a circular row of eight, resembling a telephone dial, and the door will open. Pushing the wrong buttons not only fails to open the door, but sets off an alarm bell that rings for seven minutes. The owner can change the “combination” at will, and dozens of settings are possible.

Household Inventions Lighten the Tasks of the Homemaker (Nov, 1935)

Yay! It’s a spork.

Household Inventions Lighten the Tasks of the Homemaker

This new-type floor lamp has a shade which can be tilted up toward the ceiling for indirect illumination or down for close work. A mercury-capsule switch automatically turns on a 150-watt bulb when the shade is turned up; an ordinary switch controls the smaller bulb for close work

The new piece of cutlery illustrated at the left is a cross between a spoon and a fork. It is recommended for eating gravies, stews, peas, desserts, and many other foods. It can be used with a knife, like any fork


Not too shabby considering Disney’s Hall of Presidents didn’t come out until 1971.


Five of our most famous presidents come to life in a unique historical exhibit designed by a New York inventor for display in stores and schools. Under the control of an operator offstage, figures representing Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Grover Cleveland rise in turn and deliver excerpts from some of their most famous speeches. Levers like those in a signal tower raise and seat the figures, and the voices are supplied by sixteen-inch phonograph records and reproduced by loudspeakers hidden behind the stage. Dummy microphones give the exhibit a modern touch, suggesting that these former chief executives might have assembled to take part in a present-day meeting.

Gas Under Pressure Operates Lighter (Sep, 1949)

That looks just like a modern butane lighter, but with a MUCH bigger fuel tank.

Gas Under Pressure Operates Lighter
Butane gas under pressure is the fuel used in a new cigarette lighter that yields more than 3000 lights before the tank is empty. A small knob is pushed with the thumb to release the jet of gas before the spark wheel is spun. When the fuel tank is empty, it is replaced with a new unit. The fuel from one tank will burn for three hours. It provides an odor-free flame and a “tasteless” light.

Self-Starter for Dead Man’s Heart (Oct, 1933)

This looks like an early version of a defibrillator.

PHYSICIAN INVENTS Self-Starter for Dead Man’s Heart

WHAT can be done when the heart ceases to beat? Under all sorts of different conditions, a doctor often is confronted with this urgent question.

The ambulance physician faces it with the victim of heart stroke, drowning, or accident. The surgeon faces it when the pulse of an etherized patient suddenly stops. The family physician faces it when a baby is still born or when a mother’s heart stops during childbirth.

Early Neon Signs (Oct, 1923)

“Vacuum-tube” signs, consisting of continuous glass tubing bent into lettering or numerals, the whole being lighted by either direct or alternating current at common voltages, are new advertising features. As many as three lines of script or number units may be arranged in one sign, which displays a deep-red or orange color when illuminated. The operating cost is negligible, as only from 8 to 10 watts are required for any length or number of units. No noticeable heat is radiated from the tubing, which is thus said to yield a “cold” light.

Prismatic Auto Mirror Cuts Headlight Glare (Sep, 1950)

This is one idea that certainly stuck around.

Prismatic Auto Mirror Cuts Headlight Glare
Glare in the rear-view mirror from the headlights of the car behind is cleverly avoided by the mirror above. Front and back surfaces of the mirror are not quite parallel; in section, the mirror is slightly wedge-shaped. For daytime, bright-reflection use, the mirror is set so that you See the bright image that bounces off its silvered rear surface in the conventional way.