Sign of the Times
Flood-Lights Revealing Beauties of Night (May, 1924)

Flood-Lights Revealing Beauties of Night

More than Twenty Millions of Dollars Spent in Year to Illuminate Outside of Nation’s Buildings

FROM the time primitive man stumbled about in the darkness with a torch to the modern electric age, human ingenuity, in banishing night by artificial illumination, has developed until today it has reached a brilliant climax in the art of floodlighting. Assembled in bat-teries a n d focused on towers, monuments and lofty skyscrapers, great masses of electric lights serve as an aid to advertising and to emphasize architectural beauty. Last year, it is estimated that nearly $20,000,000 were spent in the United States alone for flood-lighting equipment.

Reading Thoughts by Radio and Inventor Forecasts Private Radio Systems (May, 1924)

I wonder which idea readers in 1924 thought was more plausible; mind reading automatons or cell phones. Whatever the answer, one thing is clear: we need to come up with some way to use the word “radioplasm”. Google only returns two hits on this word and one of them is in another language.

Reading Thoughts by Radio

Can thoughts be read by radio? “Madam Radora” seems to prove that they can. Madam is not a human being, but a life-size automaton shown at the Permanent Radio Fair in New York. Her “thoughts” and movements are controlled entirely by wireless; no wires of any kind are attached to the table whereon she rests, and a liberal reward is promised the person who can prove that this is not true.

NOSE COUNT, 1960 (Apr, 1960)

I found this article incredibly interesting. It seems like the computer technology of 1960 was just barely up to the task of processing the census data. Not to mention the sheer human scale of the census operation. Check out some of the stats from the article:

On April first, 160,000 of these politically appointed door-to-door canvassers largely housewives, widows or part-time workers—will set out armed with 1,080,000 pencils, 260,000 pocket-type sharpeners, 2,850,000 scratch pads, infinite patience and considerable ingenuity

For comparison, here are articles about the 1940 and 1950 censuses (censi?).

Also here are some really nice ads for UNIVAC 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


By Richard F. Dempewolff

THIS IS THE YEAR we count off again, take a look at ourselves to see how we’ve grown, where we’re heading and how we’re doing. Ever since 1790, when the Constitution authorized a “decennial enumeration of the population,” the Bureau of Census has had to brace itself each year ending with zero, and charge into the monumental task of inventorying American noses, one by one.

Why 2,000,000 Americans Are Dope Fiends (Jun, 1930)

Why 2,000,000 Americans Are Dope Fiends

DR. WM. I. SIROVICH, a leading authority, tells here the amazing facts about the illegal dope traffic, which in recent years has assumed the proportions of a national peril. He is a member of Congress and a physician, and is leading the fight for an international agreement to stem the blighting tide of habit-forming narcotics that pours into this country from abroad.


IN THE United States, one out of every sixty persons is a drug addict. During the decade from 1920 to 1930, the number of narcotic victims in America has doubled, tripled, quadrupled. One ton a year of crude opium and its derivatives would meet the legitimate medicinal and scientific needs of the nation. Yet, last year, approximately 200 tons were smuggled into America. The amount of morphine consumed is thirty-five times that required; and, with a smaller population than that of Germany, France, and Italy combined, we import ten times as much crude opium as these three nations together.


To test the effect of tobacco fumes, three men were confined in a closed chamber where the air was so smoky that it was impossible to see across the room. The atmosphere was so irritating to the eyes that it was necessary to wear goggles. After an hour and a half, samples of the air and the blood of the smokers were taken for analysis. The experiment was made by the bureau of mines, and, as a result, it was decided that the harm from smoking indoors, or in mines, is negligible.

Women Win Honors in Science (Oct, 1936)

Women Win Honors in Science

Miss Henrieite Swope, daughter of Gerard Swope, it pictured at Ak-Bulak, U. S. S. R., where she viewed the recent solar eclipse.

Dr. Maud Slye of the University of Chicago, above, soon will publish her conclusions regarding the inheritance of cancer based upon the breeding of 130,000 mice in the past 25 years. Engineer Vera S. Glebovskaya, at right, tests in Leningrad an inclinometer used to determine the incline of oil well shafts.

He has two mothers … but still he’s lonesome (Oct, 1934)

Talk about times changing. The headline looks like it’s about the perils of gay marriage but it’s actually about the horrifying thing single and working parents today call daycare.

He has two mothers … but still he’s lonesome

Johnny Rogers has two mothers. He sees his real mother for only a few moments each evening — because she has to work all day.

His substitute mother is organized charity, which does the best it can for him during the day.

If Johnny’s father were alive, things would, of course, be different. But unfortunately he put off taking out life insurance; that is why Johnny’s mother cannot give the child her full time now.

You may think this just couldn’t happen to your child. Why not get the suggestions of an Equitable agent and make sure it won’t?

The Equitable agent is trained to recommend a plan to fit your requirements exactly. This is what is meant by The Equitable Case Method. The special conditions of your case are considered—the ages of your children, your income, whether or not you own your own home, and other vital factors.


Uncle Sam Counts Noses (Jun, 1940)

Uncle Sam Counts Noses


LAST month the census taker came to call. He unfolded a big white sheet of paper and began firing questions. Name? Age? Birthplace? And so on until he knew all the answers, and departed with his pencil-checked list. All over the country, 120,000 fact finders were doing the same. So far as foresight in planning could provide, they overlooked no dwelling’s occupants; they even visited auto trailers, marking them with stickers to avoid recounting!

HENRY FORD \iscusses America’s INDUSTRIAL FUTURE (Dec, 1934)

According to Henry Ford, the future of American industry is all about Soy beans. Actually, he wasn’t too far off, I’m typing this on my Apple Soybook Pro.


In this exclusive interview Henry Ford predicts that the farm will be the scene of industrial development. He points the way to success for today’s inventors and looks upon chemistry as the link between a more prosperous agriculture and industry.


HENRY FORD, the industrial genius of modern times, sees industry entering a vast, wide-open era of experiment, invention and discovery. He believes that in the next twenty-five years man will achieve results overshadowing the dreams of today.

This new trend has already begun under the stimulation of Henry Ford’s inventive mind. He is convinced that the farm will be the scene of great industrial development and that chemistry will be the agency by which these changes will be evolved.

Nutty Inventions Paid Me A Million – by Rube Goldberg (Dec, 1930)

Nutty Inventions Paid Me A Million

Famous Cartoonist as told to Alfred Albelli

Four hundred inventions a year, all of them of exceedingly “nutty” brand, qualify Rube Goldberg, the famous cartoonist, as one of the country’s most prolific and best paid inventors. The fact that his inventions never get beyond the pen and ink stage doesn’t prevent him from “cleaning up” from them.

“How did you get that way? How do you do it? How do you get away with it? How do you get them to fall for your stuff? How are you, anyway?”

There you have the barrage of questions which are popped at me every day of my life, including days when the game is called on account of rain. It’s a good thing a humorous cartoonist has got a sense of humor. Or I might borrow from that jolly English expression and say, “It’s fortunate my humor is not bad.”