Metal Rotors (Jul, 1948)

Metal Rotors Help Helicopter Fight Ice

All-metal rotor blades and a cabin floor hatch are novel features of a Sikorsky helicopter being tested by the Navy for use on carriers, battleships and cruisers. The blades are more easily adapted to de-icing equipment than the wooden ones now used and are less likely to be damaged. Air-sea rescues and cargo loading are simplified by the hatch. To protect deck personnel and prevent the blades from striking a rolling deck during landings on heavy seas, the tail rotor is mounted on an arm that extends upward high enough to give full head clearance. Designated the XHJS-1. the craft carries five, has a 110-mile-an-hour top speed and range of 330 miles.

Jet Powers Boat (May, 1955)

Jet Powers Boat
Powered by a jet-aircraft engine, a new hydroplane has been built in England for an assault on the U.S.-held water speed record of 178.497 miles per hour. Pilot of the hydroplane is Donald Campbell, son of the late Sir Malcolm Campbell, whose Bluebird held the speed record in the late 1930s. The new craft, also called Bluebird, is driven by the jet discharge into the air, as in an airplane. Steering is achieved with a marine-type rudder. The new Bluebird reportedly has excited the interest of both American and British Naval officials.

Flat Screen TV in 1958 (Jan, 1958)

I’m not sure this was real. It seems like if it really worked, we’d all have them. This is a Cnet article from 2004 about brand new flat CRTs and they are 16″ deep…

Update: This was real. It looks like it got abandoned more because of licensing and a standards battle than anything else. Here is a really interesting interview (pdf) done with the inventor from 1996.

AIKEN: “They finally agreed to a license. But, at the last minute, I guess at a Board of Directors’ Meeting for the final approval, somebody on the Board of Directors’ of RCA said, “Wait a minute, we’ve forgotten something. How are we going to explain to our stockholders that we wasted millions of dollars on the wrong tube?” And there was silence. And that did it. They said, “No, we will not take a license.”

Thin Tube Foretells Wall TV and Sky View for Air Pilot

BECAUSE OF NEW TECHNIQUES in the field of electronics, airplane instrument panels and home television sets may soon have something in common—a rectangular picture tube less than three inches thick. The thin cathode-ray tube was invented by William Ross Aiken and developed in the Kaiser Aircraft and Electronics Corporation laboratories. Military uses for the new TV tube were developed for the Douglas Aircraft Company. For the aircraft pilot, the thin TV tube will serve as an electronic windshield, showing an artificial picture of the terrain and sky conditions about him. For the TV viewer at home, the new picture tube may result in new designs for sets, with screens mounted in any wall or hung like picture frames. The picture tube, only 2-5/8 inches thick, is made of two rectangular pieces of plate glass with about an inch of space between them. The edges are sealed with powdered-glass solder to hold the vacuum. The surface of the thin tube is the equivalent of a 21-inch conventional screen. In the thin tube, the electron beam is injected at the bottom of one side. Deflection plates along the bottom edge bend the beam upward between the front and back glass walls. The inside of the front wall is coated with a new transparent phosphor which is said to improve the contrast. The thin TV tube also is reported to have sharper focusing properties. A new method of printing electrode elements on the inside surfaces of the glass eliminates the need for assembled metal parts. Printed circuits are used in the tube controls. The thin tube will replace many of the instruments needed for blind flying of an airplane and can be operated by a small electronic computer. A similar control system was developed by Allen B. Dumont Laboratories, Inc., for Bell Helicopter Corp.

Typewritten Flag (ASCII Art) (Jul, 1948)

What are the curved characters?

Typewritten Flag

Anyone can draw an accurate picture of the American flag on a typewriter, according to Menno Fast, a relief worker in Poland. Fast read a recent Popular Mechanics article on drawing pictures with a typewriter. He submits a drawing of the flag as proof that it can be made on an ordinary typewriter using standard spacing. The flag, with a full 13 stripes and 48 stars, appears to be rippling in the wind.

Flashlight Generates Own Power (Jun, 1935)

Flashlight Generates Own Power
A BATTERY-LESS, vest-pocket flashlight, which generates its own electricity by hand-manipulation of a lever controlling a built-in magneto, has been invented in England.
Small and flat, this current-generating flashlight casts a strong beam and is not affected by cold or heat. A magneto is built in.

Brainy Computer (May, 1955)

Brainy Computer
Billed by its makers as the smartest electronic brain ever built is a giant computer called the NORC, for Naval Ordnance Research Calculator. The NORC was designed for high-speed calculation heretofore impossible because of the time involved. For instance, it can perform 15,-000 arithmetical operations a second, or a billion in less than 24 hours. This is the equivalent of a thousand persons calculating on paper for a lifetime.

Fisherman and His Pets (Feb, 1952)

Fisherman and His Pets
Most fishermen have a hobby of some kind and Henry Larsen, lob-sterman of Freeport, N. Y., is no exception. He likes to train pets of all kinds. He hasn’t yet discovered a way to train the lobster, but he has worked out a tightrope routine starring Sonja, his cat. Sonja gracefully trips across the rope carrying two white mice and a small chicken on her back. To make the act a little more exciting, Julius, a bantam rooster and another of Larsen’s pets, perches unconcernedly on the rope, forcing the cat to step over him as she carries her passengers along the rope.

Anti-pest Doorbell Discourages Agents and Bill Collectors (Mar, 1934)

Anti-pest Doorbell Discourages Agents and Bill Collectors
A RECENTLY invented doorbell of the coin-in-the-slot type is finding great favor with housewives who are continually pestered by salesmen and bill collectors.
A dime must be inserted in the slot of this unit before the push button can be made to operate the bell. If the visitor is unwelcome, he or she loses the dime, but if a friend calls the housewife returns the dime after opening the door.
Agents are a bit hesitant about entering homes equipped with this doorbell, for they are not always confident that they can persuade the lady of the house to buy their products or return the dime.
Movie stars especially, who are continually bothered by autograph seekers and salesmen, are finding that this tittle device adds considerably to their income.

Just hearing a pin drop is easy… (Apr, 1954)

I think these guys should sue Sprint for stealing their catch-phrase.

Just hearing a pin drop is easy…

Bruel & Kjaer instruments analyze sound and put it in writing for you
Since Bruel & Kjaer instruments present essential data so easily, they greatly simplify the analysis and control of sound, vibration, and noise.

For example, the Spectrum Recorder automatically “scans” any sounds from 35 to 18,000 cycles per second in third-octave steps. Chart records, produced immediately, indicate both frequency spectrum and signal amplitude. The instrument saves hours of engineering time in analysis of sounds and vibrations, and in studies of strains, pressure variations, complex electrical voltages, and magnetic tape recordings.

Developed for laboratory use, the line of Bruel & Kjaer instruments is finding ever-broader use in industry. For information on acoustical and electro-acoustical measurements that can be made easily with these instruments, write Brush Electronics Company, Dept. B-4, 3405 Perkins Avenue, Cleveland 14, Ohio.
The Brush Development Co.
Brush Electronics Company is an operating unit of Clevite Corporation

Information (Sep, 1952)

This article is the last in Scientific American series on Automatic Control. It covers Information theory and processing. It has some great tidbits such as primitive tagging system for books by Vanevar Bush that used binary coded descriptors on microfilm. Also I’d have to say the author deserves to gloat over this quote: “It is almost certain that “bit” will become common parlance in the field of information, as “horsepower” is in the motor field.”


The surprising discovery that it is subject to the same statistical treatment as heat facilitates its storage and handling in automatic control systems

by Gilbert W. King

THE “lifeblood” of automatic control is information. To receive and act on information is the essential function of every control system, from the simplest to the most complex. It follows that to understand and apply automatic control successfully we must understand the nature of information itself. This is not as simple as it may seem. Information, and the communication of it, is a rather subtle affair, and we are only beginning to approach an exact understanding of its elusive attributes.