Posts tagged with ‘jurassic technology’

World War I Technology
Via The Atlantic:

When Europe’s armies first marched to war in 1914, some were still carrying lances on horseback. By the end of the war, rapid-fire guns, aerial bombardment, armored vehicle attacks, and chemical weapon deployments were commonplace. Any romantic notion of warfare was bluntly shoved aside by the advent of chlorine gas, massive explosive shells that could have been fired from more than 20 miles away, and machine guns that spat out bullets like firehoses. Each side did its best to build on existing technology, or invent new methods, hoping to gain any advantage over the enemy. Massive listening devices gave them ears in the sky, armored vehicles made them impervious to small arms fire, tanks could (most of the time) cruise right over barbed wire and trenches, telephones and heliographs let them speak across vast distances, and airplanes gave them new platforms to rain death on each other from above. New scientific work resulted in more lethal explosives, new tactics made old offensive methods obsolete, and mass-produced killing machines made soldiers both more powerful and more vulnerable.

Today marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I. Earlier this year, The Atlantic ran a 10-part series of photo essays on different aspects of the war.
Image: “American troops using a newly-developed acoustic locator, mounted on a wheeled platform. The large horns amplified distant sounds, monitored through headphones worn by a crew member, who could direct the platform to move and pinpoint distant enemy aircraft.” Via The Atlantic. Select to embiggen.

World War I Technology

Via The Atlantic:

When Europe’s armies first marched to war in 1914, some were still carrying lances on horseback. By the end of the war, rapid-fire guns, aerial bombardment, armored vehicle attacks, and chemical weapon deployments were commonplace. Any romantic notion of warfare was bluntly shoved aside by the advent of chlorine gas, massive explosive shells that could have been fired from more than 20 miles away, and machine guns that spat out bullets like firehoses. Each side did its best to build on existing technology, or invent new methods, hoping to gain any advantage over the enemy. Massive listening devices gave them ears in the sky, armored vehicles made them impervious to small arms fire, tanks could (most of the time) cruise right over barbed wire and trenches, telephones and heliographs let them speak across vast distances, and airplanes gave them new platforms to rain death on each other from above. New scientific work resulted in more lethal explosives, new tactics made old offensive methods obsolete, and mass-produced killing machines made soldiers both more powerful and more vulnerable.

Today marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I. Earlier this year, The Atlantic ran a 10-part series of photo essays on different aspects of the war.

Image: “American troops using a newly-developed acoustic locator, mounted on a wheeled platform. The large horns amplified distant sounds, monitored through headphones worn by a crew member, who could direct the platform to move and pinpoint distant enemy aircraft.” Via The Atlantic. Select to embiggen.

How Far We’ve Come: Some Old-Timey Digital Cameras

1975 (top): Kodak creates the world’s first digital camera. Resolution is .01 megapixels. That’s 100x100 pixels for those keeping track at home.

1991 (left): Nikon body meets Kodak digital sensors in the Kodak Digital Camera System. Resolution’s now up to 1524x 1012 pixels. Price tag starts at $20,000 (approximately $33,700 when adjusted for inflation). 

1997 and 2000 (right): Sony releases two cameras. The one on the left shoots at .3 megapixels (640x480) and saves to a 3.5” floppy disc. The one on the right shoots at 1.92 megapixels (1600x1200) and saves to mini CD-R discs.

Images: Looking back at 35 years of the digital camera, via Macworld. Select to embiggen.

Queer Vehicles Inventors Produce…
If you follow any sort of tech press you’ll have seen that PayPal and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk has a transportation plan for a high-speed, rail-based future.
Basic components: It’s people. In pods. Within Tubes. Traveling at 800mph (1,280kmh). Fueled by solar power. Because, future!
Der Spiegel takes a look at other transportation dreams that people have fetishized through the years. With names like the Dyno-Wheel Bus, Roller Steamer, Vactrain, Sea Slug, StarTram, and Rolling Ball, they’re strange dreams, indeed.
My personal favorite comes from this 1930s report by Modern Mechanix on the future of the bus. Forget Wifi, we’re getting “planes for side trips, billiard rooms, a swimming pool, a dance floor and a bridle path.”
Because, of course, when you’re on a bus what you really need is a bridle path. — Michael
Image: Popular Science introduces the “Rolling Ball” to the public, circa 1930. Via Spiegel Online.

Queer Vehicles Inventors Produce…

If you follow any sort of tech press you’ll have seen that PayPal and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk has a transportation plan for a high-speed, rail-based future.

Basic components: It’s people. In pods. Within Tubes. Traveling at 800mph (1,280kmh). Fueled by solar power. Because, future!

Der Spiegel takes a look at other transportation dreams that people have fetishized through the years. With names like the Dyno-Wheel Bus, Roller Steamer, Vactrain, Sea Slug, StarTram, and Rolling Ball, they’re strange dreams, indeed.

My personal favorite comes from this 1930s report by Modern Mechanix on the future of the bus. Forget Wifi, we’re getting “planes for side trips, billiard rooms, a swimming pool, a dance floor and a bridle path.”

Because, of course, when you’re on a bus what you really need is a bridle path. — Michael

Image: Popular Science introduces the “Rolling Ball” to the public, circa 1930. Via Spiegel Online.

Distraction Free Thinking Cap, 1925 Edition
Consider this the anti-Google Glass.
Via Pacific Standard:

Decades before Twitter, Snapchat, and viral cat videos, inventor Hugo Gernsback bemoaned the difficulty of concentrating on desk work. Even back in the 1920s, noise from the street and the frequency with which “a telephone bell or a door bell rings somewhere … is sufficient, in nearly all cases, to stop the flow of thoughts,” he wrote. Even more perniciously: “You are your own disturber practically 50 percent of the time,” always willing to be distracted by the wallpaper’s pattern or a buzzing fly, he warned.
Gernsback’s solution, presented in the July 1925 edition of Science and Invention magazine, was elegant in its simplicity, if not its design: the Isolator, a head-enveloping helmet that sealed out external sounds and sights. Narrow eye slits would prevent the wearer from seeing anything but a piece of paper directly in front of his or her face.

As Pacific Standard points out, an oxygen tube was provided to help ward off drowsiness.
Image: The Isolator, via Pacific Standard.

Distraction Free Thinking Cap, 1925 Edition

Consider this the anti-Google Glass.

Via Pacific Standard:

Decades before Twitter, Snapchat, and viral cat videos, inventor Hugo Gernsback bemoaned the difficulty of concentrating on desk work. Even back in the 1920s, noise from the street and the frequency with which “a telephone bell or a door bell rings somewhere … is sufficient, in nearly all cases, to stop the flow of thoughts,” he wrote. Even more perniciously: “You are your own disturber practically 50 percent of the time,” always willing to be distracted by the wallpaper’s pattern or a buzzing fly, he warned.

Gernsback’s solution, presented in the July 1925 edition of Science and Invention magazine, was elegant in its simplicity, if not its design: the Isolator, a head-enveloping helmet that sealed out external sounds and sights. Narrow eye slits would prevent the wearer from seeing anything but a piece of paper directly in front of his or her face.

As Pacific Standard points out, an oxygen tube was provided to help ward off drowsiness.

Image: The Isolator, via Pacific Standard.

Old Timey Computer Ads

Behold the computer in a briefcase, the $3,398 10MB hard disk and the 16k of RAM that turns your computer into a working giant.

For more, visit io9, Hilarious and Awesome Computer Ads from the Golden Age of PCs.

The Panoramic Book

Or, The Horizontal Scroll, depending how you look at things.

Images via the Princeton University Library Blog: “The graphic arts collection holds a scrolling panorama made up of 12 unsigned, hand-colored etchings, with a narrative in verse, attributed to [Thomas] Rowlandson and titled Mister O’Squat.”

The WITCH is Back

The 61-year-old Harwell Dekatron (aka, WITCH) computer was rebooted earlier this month by England’s National Museum of Computing. The museum claims it’s “the world’s oldest original working digital computer.”

Via the BBC:

Design and construction work on the machine began in 1949 and it was built to aid scientists working at the UK’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell in Oxfordshire. The 2.5 tonne machine was created to ease the burden on scientists by doing electronically the calculations that previously were done using adding machines.

The machine cranked through the boring calculations atomic scientists once had to do The machine first ran in 1951 and was known as the Harwell Dekatron - so named for the valves it used as a memory store. Although slow - the machine took up to 10 seconds to multiply two numbers - it proved very reliable and often cranked up 80 hours of running time in a week.

FJP: 61 years from a 2.5 ton machine that takes ten seconds to multiply two numbers to ever aware smartphones in our pockets? Not bad.

For more old-timey tech, see our Jurassic Technology tag.

The Reliable Electronic Memory
Advertisement circa 1950 via BoingBoing.

The Reliable Electronic Memory

Advertisement circa 1950 via BoingBoing.

The World’s First Color Film

Via England’s National Media Museum:

In 1899, just five years after British audiences first saw moving pictures, Edward Turner, a photographer and, and Frederick Marshall Lee, his financial backer, patented the first colour moving picture process in Britain.

A complicated process, it involved photographing successive frames of black-and-white film through blue, green and red filters. Using a special projector (which you can see in the gallery) these were combined on a screen to produce full-colour images.

Turner died in 1903 and Charles Urban turned to early film pioneer, George Albert Smith, to perfect the process. After working on it for a year, Smith deemed Turner’s process unworkable and it was abandoned in favour of his own, simpler, colour process. Marketed by Urban as Kinemacolor, this became the first commercially successful colour moving picture process and made a fortune.

The Gaumont Chronophone
Why yes, these are turntables from 1910. They were used to synchronize sound and film at the Gaumont Palace in Paris.
And yes, the FJP likes itself some jurassic technology.

The Gaumont Chronophone

Why yes, these are turntables from 1910. They were used to synchronize sound and film at the Gaumont Palace in Paris.

And yes, the FJP likes itself some jurassic technology.

Today in Jurassic Technology

Tackling voice and video transmission didn’t start with Skype, Facetime and Google. 

Head back in time and we have Edison’s imagined Telephonoscope as shown here in Punch’s Almanac from 1879  (Transmits light as well as sound!) . 

1910 saw another imagined videotelephony display (bottom right) in a look at what 21st century France might be all about (technology changes, fashion remains the same?).

In 1956 AT&T created a prototype for the Picturephone (bottom left) and introduced it to the public at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. In an exhibit, visitors could call and see people at another installation in Disneyland.

Frame rate: one image every two seconds.

Typing Machines

Via Slate.

One Hundred Years Ago Today
The Appeal (St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN) Saturday, July 15, 1911, Uncle Sam’s Secret Methods of Communication:

Residents of foreign countries who visit the United States almost invariably marvel at the open and above-board manner in which our government does business — the extent, for instance, to which the public is taken into confidence of the republic’s highest officials, through the medium of the newspapers and public addresses. And no wonder, for such a state of things is assuredly in sharp contrast to the practices that prevail in many foreign countries, where it seems to be the policy of high officials to never tell the people anything until they have to or until there is grave danger that they will learn it from some other source and where letters and telegrams are censored in a manner unheard of in this land of the free.

The article goes on to explain that the government, at times, does maintain its privacy because “it would undoubtably surprise the average reader could he know how many people there are who are constantly trying to find out things Uncle Sam does not wish to disclose or at least are trying to find them out before he is ready to make announcements on the subject.”   
Tools of the trade: the modern dictagraph, telegraph and telautograph.
Innocent reporters not included.

One Hundred Years Ago Today

The Appeal (St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN) Saturday, July 15, 1911, Uncle Sam’s Secret Methods of Communication:

Residents of foreign countries who visit the United States almost invariably marvel at the open and above-board manner in which our government does business — the extent, for instance, to which the public is taken into confidence of the republic’s highest officials, through the medium of the newspapers and public addresses. And no wonder, for such a state of things is assuredly in sharp contrast to the practices that prevail in many foreign countries, where it seems to be the policy of high officials to never tell the people anything until they have to or until there is grave danger that they will learn it from some other source and where letters and telegrams are censored in a manner unheard of in this land of the free.

The article goes on to explain that the government, at times, does maintain its privacy because “it would undoubtably surprise the average reader could he know how many people there are who are constantly trying to find out things Uncle Sam does not wish to disclose or at least are trying to find them out before he is ready to make announcements on the subject.”   

Tools of the trade: the modern dictagraph, telegraph and telautograph.

Innocent reporters not included.

fiftyyrsoftech asked: I suspect our blogs will share much in common.. Do you plan to post more on the history of technology and products?

Hi there, 

I think you might be referencing posts we tag with “Jurassic Technology”.

We don’t go out of our way to find it but are certainly happy when we come across old computers, visions of the future and assorted odds and ends that sort of somewhat demonstrate where we’ve come from.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the history of  modern computing is over 60 years old, the Internet is over 40 years old, the Web over 20.

Or that the first calculator dates back to 2400 BC.