Radio Milks Cows, Runs Street Cars (Feb, 1931)

Radio Milks Cows, Runs Street Cars

THERE seems to be no end to the versatility of radio in these days of electrical and mechanical miracles—not even cows and street cars are immune to the influences of its radiations. As a curtain raiser at the annual radio show held recently in St. Louis, a street car was operated from a distance by a mere man with a radio transmitter in his hand, and a Holstein cow was made to dispense her milk by the medium of radio waves, whether she liked it or not.

The mechanism of the trolley car and the mechanism of the milking machine were hooked up to a specially constructed radio receiver using only a five-foot length of copper pipe as an antenna. At a distance stood the operator, holding a portable radio transmitter using a similar antenna, as shown in the accompanying photos. When the key was pressed at the transmitter, the distant receiver in both cases set the machines to operating.

10 comments
  1. Rick says: September 5, 20088:07 am

    I seems to me that those two guys with the trolley control had better get their feet off the track before they push any buttons.

  2. Don says: September 5, 200811:35 am

    “. . . a Holstein cow was made to dispense her milk by the medium of radio waves, whether she liked it or not.” <– Bovine torture!

  3. JM says: September 5, 200812:57 pm

    Then that was “radio”active milk? :P

  4. StanFlouride says: September 5, 20081:25 pm

    *groan* @ JM
    I wonder if Sirius Satellite Radio has looked into the possibilities of this technology.

  5. Toronto says: September 5, 20082:14 pm

    Strictly speaking, it’s only a trolley if the current comes from an overhead wire or wires via a trolley pole or pantograph. So the tracks only serve as a ground (and only on single wire systems, at that.)

    The people in the photo are in no danger of electrocution from standing on the tracks. However, they might get run over.

    - TTC rider.

  6. Eliyahu says: September 5, 20082:16 pm

    Given that the cow still has to be hooked up to the milking machine by hand, I’m not sure of any advantage to the radio control device over a simple off/on switch on the side of the milking machine.

  7. Rick says: September 5, 20086:06 pm

    Hi TTC rider

    When I said they should get their feet off the track I wasn’t thinking of the electric angle but was commenting on the fact that if they start that trolley going they should at least move out of its way. Yes, I know about the overhead wires and grounded track. I’m 75 years old and rode them regularly when I was younger and we still had them in my city. And as kids we played around the tracks all the time. Some kids used to hop onto the back ends of the moving trolleys and pull the pantographs off of the overhead electric lines and then run like hell! The motorman had to come out and re set the pantograph while shaking his fist at the running kids. Of course I NEVER did anything like that . . . ;-)

  8. rsterling78 says: September 6, 200812:44 am

    As with so much 1930s Modern Mechanix tech, you’re left asking yourself, “What’s the point?!”

  9. Capt Scarf says: September 6, 20087:27 am

    As with so much 2000s Society & Technology, you are left with the feeling of “How Quaint a/o Stupid”

  10. Rick says: September 6, 20083:28 pm

    Yes that 1930s stuff does seem ridiculous to us now but imagine how our stuff will look to future generations. Case in point, google Hammacher Schlemmer and check out their ropeless electronic jump rope. Or look at much of Brookstones stuff, particularly vibrating chairs and the like. Or look in your own kitchen cabinets and way in the back you’ll likely find all kinds of oddball small appliances that seemed to be such a good idea when you bought them. I’ll bet they haven’t been used in years. Case in point . . . remember the craze a few years ago for dehydrating machines? Or juicers? Or how about that annual Christmas favorite salad shooter? I’ll bet those future people will be laughing harder at us than we are of those oddball 30s gadgets ;-)

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