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. Persons desiring to ask questions simply stand before “Madam Radora” with their hands resting on a special pedestal carrying a number of electrical contacts. Radora then bends over her crystal, and answers the questions put to her in a clear, feminine voice.

Inventor Forecasts Private Radio Systems

Private communication, on a par with the telephone, will be possible in the near future, Edgar DeForest, a Minneapolis
engineer, predicted recently. His plan involves a central station, continuously in action , and equipped with both sending and receiving elements, operating with what the inventor calls “waveless wireless,” without any alternating or pulsating current effects. Offices and homes would be equipped with small instruments, the cost of which would be nominal, and which, by automatic signals, would be put in touch with the person desired, so that the system would be limited to the two connected stations, just as with the telephone.

  1. William Deering says: January 25, 20085:50 am

    Mind reading acts of that time often refered to protoplasm. That may have had something to do with the attempt to coin the word “radioplasm” for detecting thoughts from the ether (another word popular with 1924 mediums).

  2. glindsey says: January 25, 20087:03 am

    And of course nobody could claim the “liberal reward” because nobody could ever prove that the person wasn’t thinking what the automaton said he/she was thinking.

  3. yuubi says: January 25, 200811:34 am

    It looks like someone offstage used radio rather than wires to control the “mind-reading robot”. There was no reward for debunking the mind-reading bit, just the wireless bit. I guess it’s otherwise a standard cold-reading act.

    This way to the great egress.

  4. nlpnt says: January 25, 20083:48 pm

    Congratulations! Between this entry and BoingBoing’s meta-reference to it, you’ve DOUBLED the Google hits for “radioplasm”. To four. Not exactly the next “truthiness”, but from small acorns….

    “…small instruments, the cost of which would be nominal…”
    The sound you just heard waas a million cell-phone subscribers laughingso hard they can’t breathe.

  5. John Grant says: February 21, 200812:15 pm

    Um, Glindsey, the liberal reward was for disproving their claim of it being wireless. I’m going to have to give you an unhappy face for reading on your next report card.

  6. nurbles says: March 7, 20088:35 am

    I’m coming to this a couple weeks late, but I found “about 68” hits for radioplasm on Google. Many were references to this, but a few were from other things. Switching to Google Books gets five interesting hits…

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