“Radio Nurse” Watches Child (Jul, 1938)

Did you think that the baby monitor was a recent invention?

“Radio Nurse” Watches Child

A “RADIO NURSE” now brings the nursery into the living room, kitchen, or any other room desired. When a child is sleeping or playing in a room when no older persons are present, every sound within that room can be transmitted to any spot in the house. The outfit consists of a pickup unit, placed near the child to be “watched,” and a loudspeaker, which can be placed in any convenient location.

Exploding the Television Boom (Feb, 1939)

Very interesting (and long) article from the dawn of the TV era (1939) explaining all of the hurdles; technological, economical, political, etc that will have to be jumped before TV is widely available. A lot of it sounds similar to the current emergence of internet based video distribution. Just as they are today, the major movie studios and radio networks were unsure of how to handle this new beast. They feared it would replace them, so the bought in, then gave up, then bought in again, a lot like what we’re seeing with TV networks allowing their content to be distributed online.

According to the printed stories, Paramount will soon be set for big-scale television on a national basis, with transmitting stations on both coasts planned to give the public “this new type of entertainment”. When sound broadcasting began to loom as the movies’ first really serious competitor, Paramount bought an interest in the Columbia Broadcasting System, and then dropped it when they learned that there was nothing wrong with the movies that good pictures couldn’t cure. Now, apparently, Paramount is making another attempt to cover itself, and protect its stockholders by entering television in case it does materialize into something more than hot air.

There are also some interesting parallels to the DRM questions flying about today:

He will also make receivers—in fact, he’s making one right now for the Empire State signals—but under the Paramount set-up the new receivers will reproduce only his broadcasts, not the NBC or CBS ones!

And some funny assumptions about radio’s future:

No grade “A” broadcast station uses phonograph records; will they step down a notch and use “image records?”

The answer I guess was, yes. Though sattellite and streaming media are chaning this, for the last 50 years, TV and Radio content (with the exception of sports, news and talk radio) have been ruled by recorded programming.

Full article text after the break.

Metal Lungs Give Life (Jul, 1938)

Words I never thought I’d say: “Wow, that girl in the Iron Lung looks sexy!”

Metal Lungs Give Life

DEATH stands at the hospital bedside, waiting. Beneath the covers, a gasping youngster rights for breath. He is a’victim of infantile paralysis. Slowly, cruelly, the dreadful fingers of paralysis clutch at the chest muscles which pump the breath of life through his body. Soon those muscles will cease to function and the youngster will cease to breathe.

But death has not reckoned with the mechanical ingenuity of man.

Safety Belt Devised For Car (Jul, 1938)

Safety Belt Devised For Car
DESIGNED to hold passengers firmly in their seats in event of a crash so that they will not be thrown violently against the car interior, a newly developed safety belt for automobiles may eliminate injuries attributed to this cause.

Original Auto Focus (Aug, 1971)

And it only weighs 7lbs!

The Lens That Focuses Itself
Ever shoot an out-of-focus picture? Then you’ll be interested in the newest lens from Nikon. It focuses as automatically as your eye, and just as fast. You can just point and shoot at fast-moving subjects from athletes to zebras without giving focus a thought. As long as you keep your subject within the sensing circle in the center of your viewfinder, you’ll get sharp pictures. Any drawbacks? Sure. The lens is k big (11 inches long), heavy (it weighs six pounds including the batteries that power the autofocus mechanism), slow (f/4.5), and you won’t be able to buy one until next year.—A. J Hand

How does it work? Like this:

Light reflected from the subject passes through the first group of lens elements and is split by a ring mirror. Some of the light passes through the lens to the film plane. The rest is reflected down to the autofocus mechanism where a condensing lens forms an aerial image. The position of this image will vary according to distance of the subject. A contrast-sensing set of four photocells inside the autofocus system moves up and down the shaft of focused light. Every time the photocells pass through the point of focus (also the point of highest contrast) they send a pulse to the logic circuit. At each up-and-down cycle of the four cells, a clock pulse is fed to the logic circuit as well. A third pulse indicating the current focus of the lens also is transmitted to the circuit. The circuit takes the three pulse signals and converts them to a time signal. The time signal corresponds to the distance between the sharpest image position and the current focus position. An analog circuit and power amplifier actuate a servo motor that shifts the movable lens elements to bring the lens into focus. All this takes place several times a second—scanning, computing, and refocusing.

Levers Control Bike Brakes (Jun, 1938)

Levers Control Bike Brakes
A FRONT wheel brake, operated from the handlebar and a two-speed rear wheel coaster brake, operated by a lever mounted on the frame, have been developed for bicycle use. The rear brake has a change speed gear which provides extra power on hills, quick pick-up, and more speed. Photo shows fingertip controls.

Things You Never Knew About Your Fountain Pen (Sep, 1956)

Things You Never Knew About Your Fountain Pen

A leaky 1884 pen let loose the flood tide of American ingenuity that has kept the world writing.

By Richard Match

FROM Murmansk to Timbuktu the American fountain pen, streamlined, durable and leakproof, is a symbol of U.S. technological excellence. After World War II our trim Parkers, Sheaffers, Watermans, Eversharps brought $400 each on the black market overseas. Today Japanese and Italian street vendors hawk shoddy counterfeits; the Russians turn out imitation Parker 51’s which cost more than the real thing. But American manufacturers make 75 percent of the world’s output—some 200 million pens a year.

LEONARDO DA VINCI —Edison of Yesterday! (Sep, 1939)

LEONARDO DA VINCI —Edison of Yesterday!

TODAY, just four and a half centuries after he lived, Leonardo da Vinci is receiving belated acclamation as one of the greatest inventive minds the world has ever known!

Famous as a painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, engineer and anatomist, it has not been until the last decade that his genius as an inventor has been truly appreciated. To understand just why this side of history’s most versatile man has been so neglected, we must go back to the latter part of the 15th century, about ten years before Columbus discovered America, for it was then that Leonardo da Vinci was at the height of his all-embracing career.

John Chinaman – His Science (Mar, 1933)

This is a really odd article. The basic proposition seems to be, “Wow those stupid, plodding Chinese sure are smart. How is that possible?”

It is rather fascinating to conjecture on some of these things, to realize that plodding John Chinaman, who seems thick and slow and dense to modern Western culture, should have sought out these truths of nature, these mechanics that we today are using in the iron men of our machine age. And to realize that we haven’t yet extracted all of the value from their applications as in some instances John Chinaman has done with his science.

John Chinaman – His Science

WHERE there ain’t no ten commandments and a man can raise a thirst, there’s an ancient science extant that looks like the very first. We think we’re the only ones who know smelting and hydraulics and ceramics and printing and electricity. But old John Chinaman had a civilized working knowledge of them all so long ago that our ancestors appear to have been dumbells at the time. They were living in total ignorance of a civilization so advanced and so fundamental that even to this day John Chinaman is ahead of us in the application of many things mechanical he has known since Noah built the ark.

Cold Light (Apr, 1939)

Cold Light
Opents New Field in Electric Signs

MAGIC wands of “cold” light, rivaling the rainbow in their hues and the firefly in their efficiency, have come out of the laboratory to paint night scenes with new marvels of beauty. Perfected and ready for use after years of experiment by General Electric research engineers, these “fluorescent lamps,” as they are called, apply a brand-new principle in illumination. By doing so, they reduce the cost of colored-light displays to a point where lighting effects hitherto possible only in theaters can be applied lavishly everywhere.