An internet idea, far ahead of its time?

February 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

Before there was the Chunnel…

February 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-2-22-2016-English-Channel-BridgeFor 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.

One of the first hybrids…

February 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-2-8-2016-early-carIn today’s world hybrid automobiles are commonly found on the road, a cross between internal combustion and electric engines. But our recent fascination with hybrids is nothing new.

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.

They put it in print… a prophetic statement on “modern technology”…

September 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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 Blog-9-14-2015-Thomas-Edisontoday.

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.

They put it in print… The floating soap surfaces…

April 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

Blog-4-29-2015-Ivory-SoapTitled 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.

The things we take for granted… Let there be light…

March 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Hofstra University maintains a Facebook page where staff from their special collections department can post interesting finds. We recently discovered yet another interesting post – this one showing a late 19th century image from a January 14, 1882 issue of Harper’s Weekly.  It sure brings to light one of the joys of the hobby – reading contemporary reactions to inventions and advancements of which we now take for granted. For an interesting historical journey, do a little internet research on the electric battles between Tesla and Edison.

A shocking cure for what ails you…

February 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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?

A Labor Day Weekend Tribute through rare newspapers…

August 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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:

Harper’s Weekly Labor Day issue of 1913

Labor Day themed issues

Scientific American

And a number of categories available via the History’s Newsstand eBay Store:

Thanks again to all those who have given so much to help make the world a better place.  🙂

Before the Jane Fonda video…

August 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The “Scientific American” issue of Nov. 18, 1911 offers this interesting solution for “…reducing abdominal weight”. I don’t think this one caught on…

Not sure this one worked…

July 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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. 

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