Useless Tech
Meet Rube Goldberg (Feb, 1959)

Meet Rube Goldberg

His name is the common term for the goofy gizmo but this world-famous artist-inventor is a rube in name only.

By Wilson Curry

ONE of the world’s most famous inventors has just completed his 2,001st gadget. In honor of the occasion he offers his latest creation free to his fellow Americans. Anyone who wants to mass-produce it may do so, royalty-free.

It’s a method for getting a dull comedian offstage. Here’s how it works: 1. A barber shop quartet sings a sad song. 2. It’s so sad a little man standing nearby cries big tears into a flower pot.

France Builds World’s Greatest Defense System (Mar, 1931)

That sure worked out well…

France Builds World’s Greatest Defense System

In spite of the recent peace treaties and disarmament conferences, Europe is preparing for war. This article describes the French reaction to current peace talk.

NOT since the ancient Mongols erected the great Chinese wall more than two thousand years ago, has any nation conceived so gigantic a system of defensive fortifications as is now under construction on the eastern frontier of France and Belgium.

Scientific Frauds (Jan, 1932)

Sadly these quack cures are still ridiculously popular.

Also, despite all of his fantastical ideas, Hugo Gernsback was an excellent debunker.

Scientific Frauds


IT would seem that, in this enlightened age, the public should be sufficiently educated not to fall prey to the multitude of scientific quackeries which still abound.

With the public pretty well accustomed to science, there would seem to be no excuse for these latter-day swindles which are still being practiced all over the country; but, strange as it may seem, there is still a great amount of business being done by various individuals and companies who make a specialty of thus exploiting the public.

Handy Wristholder for Pencil (Sep, 1931)

Handy Wristholder for Pencil

FOUNTAIN pens and pencils are made quickly and easily accessible by the use of a new wrist pencil and pen holder now on the market.


PROPELLERS and engines are not needed to fly the model airship of Bernays Johnson, who is shown with his craft in the photograph at the right. A powerful radio wave which neutralizes the pull of gravity is the force which keeps the ship aloft. Johnson experimented for ten years before he succeeded in discovering the principle of his anti-gravity waves. The ship can be controlled from within itself or from the ground. It was exhibited at the recent Boston radio exposition

How Fast can Man Travel? (Feb, 1929)

Apparently Einstein’s work hadn’t really sunk in yet. It’s the acceleration, not the speed that gets you.

How Fast can Man Travel?

Is there a limit to the speed which the human body can withstand? Five miles a minute caused no ill effects for the English aviator who recently attained this speed.

RECENTLY broken records for speed in various methods of transportation have bettered the marks of recent years by such a wide margin that scientists are asking the question, “How fast can man travel before the functions of his body cease to be normal? Is there a limit?”

Invents Hourmeter to Time Hops (Sep, 1930)

This was the cutting edge in aviation technology until the introduction of the minutemeter in WWII.

Invents Hourmeter to Time Hops

THROUGH an electrical contact attached to the landing gear, the recently invented hourmeter timing device records trip and total flying time the moment the plane leaves the ground. The same contact stops the clock when the landing is made. Spreading and contracting of the landing gear actuates the electrical circuit. Current is supplied by two dry cells, or from the ship’s battery.

Aeronautical experts declare that this instrument will fill in one of the gaps of aviation.

Chain Prevents Dropping Shaver (Sep, 1948)

Chain Prevents Dropping Shaver
To prevent dropping and possible damaging of an electric shaver, a razor guard with chain attached is available. The guard is secured by removing one of the screws from the case and replacing it with a longer screw furnished with the guard. A loop on the end of the chain is worn over the thumb.

Odd Ventilator Pumps Pure Air to Bomb Cellar (Apr, 1940)

Odd Ventilator Pumps Pure Air to Bomb Cellar

Knowing that poison gas seldom rises more than thirty feet above ground level, a British inventor worked out an odd device designed to draw fresh air into gasproof shelters on or under the ground. Resembling a giant accordion, a special hand-operated bellows sucks fresh air into the shelter through a flue pipe that extends up forty feet above the ground. Said to be foolproof, the apparatus draws in air at the rate of 400 -cubic feet a minute.


I don’t really see how these do anything other than make you look like a cool character from a Terry Gilliam film.

To reduce the blinding glare of approaching automobile headlights, a novel eye shield has recently been introduced. Strapped to a band worn about the head, a metal frame extends from the forehead and holds two ovals of amber glass in front of the eyes, where they are normally just out of range of direct vision. A slight turn of the head places the glass ovals between the eyes and the rays of oncoming car lights.