This is the third in a series of 5 articles I’ve scanned from an amazing 1952 issue of Scientific American about Automatic Control. Discussing automatic machine tools, feedback loops, and the role of computers in manufacturing and information theory, these are really astounding articles considering the time in which they were written.


The multifarious control loops of a fully automatic factory must be gathered into one big loop. This can best be done by means of a digital computing machine

by Louis N. Ridenour

IF THE thermostat is a prime elementary example of the principle of automatic control, the computer is its most sophisticated expression. The thermostat and other simple control mechanisms, such as the automatic pilot and engine-governor, are specialized devices limited to a single function. An automatic pilot can control an airplane but would be helpless if faced with the problem of driving a car. Obviously for fully automatic control we must have mechanisms that simulate the generalized abilities of a human being, who can operate the damper on a furnace, drive a car or fly a plane, set a rheostat to control a voltage, work the throttle of an engine, and do many other things besides. The modern computer is the first machine to approach such general abilities.

Computer is really an inadequate name for these machines. They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them. The name has somewhat obscured the fact that they are capable of much greater generality. When these machines are applied to automatic control, they will permit a vast extension of the control art— an extension from the use of rather simple specialized control mechanisms, which merely assist a human operator in doing a complicated task, to over-all controllers which will supervise a whole job. They will be able to do so more rapidly, more reliably, more cheaply and with just as much ingenuity as a human operator.

Build Your Own Street Legal Kart (May, 1962)

Well, it was apparently street legal in 1962 at least.

In case you had any concerns about reliability; read about these guys driving this kart around the world.


You don’t need a trailer or a station wagon to haul this kart to a track you can drive it there on public roads!

By R. J. Capotosto

DRIVING a kart is a real thrill. Seated on a low-slung frame only inches from the ground, you feel as if you’re doing 80 mph when you’re doing 20. Yet it’s surprisingly safe. The low center of gravity and a width two-thirds the length make it almost impossible to flip a kart in a tight turn. Just about everyone who tries a kart gets the urge to own one—and if you’ve got that urge, you get a bonus in building the MI Highway Kart.

Since karts are generally driven on special tracks, it is not necessary to register them. However, transporting a kart is often a problem. It can be hauled in a station wagon—if you own a wagon—or it can be towed on a trailer. Either way, the lugging can be quite a nuisance. With this in mind, our model was designed so that registration could be obtained, making it possible to drive the kart to its destination on public roads.


I think this is the only time i have ever seen the word rape used in an advertisement.


Secret underground broadcasters still send out news of what the brave Dutch are doing to upset the Nazi “new Disorder”. Radio furnishes the ONE link between conquered countries and the outside world. In war, as in peace, The Radio Shack continues to play its part in the field of communications . . . now supplying vital equipment to help hasten the day of victory, and revenge for the rape of Rotterdam.


167 Washington St.
Boston, Mass., U.S.A.

Electric Preacher (Aug, 1949)

Wow, that’s pretty cool. I wonder why don’t they do that in the mega-chruches. Can’t you just imagine Jerry Fallwell shooting lightning from his finger tips? He’d look like a pudgy version of the Emporer from Star Wars… Oh. Mabe that’s why they don’t.

Fingertip Sermon is given by George E. Speake at a Christian Endeavor convention. One million volts arch from his body through electrodes on his fingertips. Sparks really fly when he’s on the pulpit!

Digital Graph Plotter (Sep, 1952)

Digital Graph Plotter

ally plots one variable against another algebraically in incremental steps, in response to electrical impulses. It is ideally adapted for use as a read-out device for electronic digital computers, especially digital differential analyzers, and for use in connection with such problems as aircraft tracking and automatic data reduction.
• plots at speeds up to 20 steps per second, in incremental steps of 1/64 of an inch.
• simultaneous movement on both axes in either direction.
• can be controlled electronically or by external or remote switches or relays.
• will make several carbon copies or duplicating stencil.
• instant manual positioning of pen and drum.
• takes 12″ x 18″ paper or continuous 12″ strip.
Mechanical simplicity ..high reliability accuracy ..quick pen cartridge change..self-contained power supply.
Additional information supplied on request.
141 South Pacific Avenue
Redondo Beach, California

FEEDBACK (Sep, 1952)

This is the second in a series of 5 articles I’ve scanned from an amazing 1952 issue of Scientific American about Automatic Control. It discusses automatic machine tools, feedback loops, the role of computers in manufacturing and information theory. These are really astounding articles considering the time in which they were written.


It is the fundamental principle that underlies all self-regulating systems, not only machines but also the processes of life and the tides of human affairs

by Arnold Tustin

FOR hundreds of years a few examples of true automatic control systems have been known. A very early one was the arrangement on windmills of a device to keep their sails always facing into the wind. It consisted simply of a miniature windmill which could rotate the whole mill to face in any direction. The small mill’s sails were at right angles to the main ones, and whenever the latter faced in the wrong direction, the wind caught the small sails and rotated the mill to the correct position. With steam power came other automatic mechanisms: the engine-governor, and then the steering servo-engine on ships, which operated the rudder in correspondence with movements of the helm. These devices, and a few others such as simple voltage regulators, constituted man’s achievement in automatic control up to about 20 years ago.

Large Screen Projection TV (Jul, 1957)

Far Cry from the “Cuckoo” Clock
Germany’s Black Forest was once famed for its cuckoo clocks. Bringing its technology up to date, the Saba-Works of the Black Forest has come out with a handsome large-screen projection TV set (left) that can be remotely controlled. An image of high optical density is formed on a small-faced cathode-ray tube in back of the set and projected on the screen through a lens system.

Hearing Aid for Cat (Oct, 1948)

Hearing Aid for Cat
“Unfortunate” heard for the first time recently when the cat’s owner, Mrs. A. H. Cooper of Fort Worth, Tex., had a hearing aid fitted to the feline. The hearing aid is the latest of a series of steps by Mrs. Cooper to improve the life of the unfortunate cat, which was born deaf, crippled in the hind legs and had no teeth until the age of two. The owner massaged the cat’s gums until the teeth finally came through and had a wheeled support built which enables the cat to scoot around the house.

Plastic Plants (Jul, 1951)

Plastic Plants
Real enough in appearance to fool the eye of any but the most discerning, plastic plants provide attractive floral decorations that require no attention other than an occasional dusting. These plants, made of Ameran plastisol, are not affected by heat up to 175 degrees Fahrenheit and are fire repellent and completely washable. Available in a wide color range, the plastic eliminates the fire hazard of previous artificial foliages. Leaf and stem structure of such decorative plants as Chinese evergreen, Philodendron and Caladium are reproduced by the manufacturer.

Makes Coffee as You Drive (Sep, 1953)

Makes Coffee as You Drive
The young lady is enjoying a cup of coffee made by a German gadget that clamps onto the dash and plugs into the car’s electric system. Hot water filters through powdered coffee into a cup. Cimo Sievers, NYC, distributes Paluxette.