A fascinating article in the “St. Louis Globe-Democrat” of September 15, 1878 seems to include a man’s idea which is far ahead of his time. Only problem is he didn’t have access to the technological developments the next 125 years would provide.
The column heads announce: “The Newsograph” “A Most Remarkable Application of Edison’s Last Patent” “The Device of a Park Philosopher for Bringing the Word’s News To Every Man’s Home”. The article details an idea of bringing “verbal” news into every person’s home by using Edison’s phonograph patent, thereby eliminating the need for a physical newspaper (see below). A curious concept in light of today’s internet technology. Go to the link above for the full article.
For over twenty years now the English Channel Tunnel, of the “Chunnel” has carried passengers, by train, between England and France. Although being the first such connection to come to fruition, it was not the first proposed.
Such a connection between England and the continent has been proposed since 1802 but none, obviously came to reality. The November 30, 1889 issue of “Scientific American“ reports on a bridge that was conceived as a viable effort, detailed in the article: “The Proposed Bridge Over The English Channel” and illustrated with a caption: “The Proposed Railway Bridge Between England and France.”
It is difficult to imagine the success of an elevated railway stretching over 30 miles, which might explain why this concept never became reality, but in hindsight it is interesting to perceive the vision of engineers over 100 years ago.
In 1889 a proposal was submitted for what looks like an electric car/cable car hybrid, as detailed in the July 27, 1889 issue of “Scientific American“. The electric vehicle would receive its power from the cable lines above it but the vehicle would negotiate the streets without the aid of tracks.
It is interesting how fascination with electric propulsion over 100 years ago has been renewed today as a means of powering automobiles.
The “New York Times” issue of March 25, 1878, has a fascinating editorial which is a reflection of how people were panicked by the lack of privacy over 100 years ago as they are today.
The piece about Edison’s latest invention: “The Aerophone” goes on to detail how Edison’s work is destroying society. It begins: “Something ought to be done to Mr. Edison, and there is a growing conviction that it had better be done with a hemp rope. Mr. Edison has invented too many things, and…they are things of the most deleterious character. He has been addicted to electricity..” and railing on including mention that his phonograph is responsible for destroying privacy & making it impossible for anyone to talk to anyone any more, etc. The column-long editorial ends with an over-the-top fear for the fall of society, including: “…The result will be the complete disorganization of society. Men & women will flee from civilization & seek the silence of the forest relief from the roar of countless aerophones. Business, marriage, and all social amusements will be thrown aside…It may be too late to suppress the aerophone now, but at least there is time to visit upon the head of its inventor the just indignation of his fellow countrymen.”
A fascinating report in light of current-day concerns for lack of privacy.
It’s interesting to find articles reporting the very beginning of some of the more commonplace items in present-day life, but which were given little consequence at the time. A good example is a rather inconspicuous article in an April 1, 1882 issue of “Scientific American“.
Titled simply “Floating Soap”, the article includes: “…the peculiarity of the soap they were using. When one of the men had soaped himself he would drop the soap into the water and it would ‘bob up serenely from below’ like a cork, ready for the next man to pick it up…The soap was called ‘ivory’, presumably on account of being of a creamy white color like ivory…We are pleased to note that Messrs. Proctor and Gamble, of Cincinnati, have at last discovered how to make a soap that will float & at the same time be durable & serviceable, & reasonably cheap.”
Ivory soap remains today–some 133 years later–a very common product on store shelves around the world. And it still floats.
Here’s an interesting medical devise which never seemed to catch on, as reported in the “Scientific American” issue of March 14, 1891. I wonder how many investors in this product were shocked when this one went belly-up?
What was originally intended as a means for honoring the hard-working common laborers who helped build the United States into a prosperous nation (please, no “You didn’t build that!” comments), is now more closely associated with the end of summer. Families and friends join together in one final effort to squeeze the last drop of relaxation from their laborious efforts exerted through the Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons. Perhaps in the end this transition is well-suited to the intentions of the original proponents of the holiday… and much more has been gained than lost.
With appreciation for both the original and morphed sentiments of the holiday, the following links are intended to take you on a small trip back through the 19th and early 20th centuries, to view Labor Day through the eyes of those who have toiled before us. Please enjoy…
Labor Day as seen through:
Thanks again to all those who have given so much to help make the world a better place. 🙂
Before the days of plastic surgery or rhinoplasty, here is how problems with the nose were supposedly “cured”. While subscribers were on the hunt for great baseball news, this ad is in the “Baseball Magazine” issue of June, 1923.