Behold The Machine…! Hugo Gernsback’s Radio Police Automaton

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Hugo Gernsback’s Radio Police AutomatonScience and Invention magazine, May 1924

Radio Police Automaton

AS is well known, radio can be used today to produce mechanical effects at a distance. This new art is known as radio-telemechanics. Many years ago already it was possible to start and operate vehicles and machinery entirely by radio. The United States Navy a little over a year ago operated the warship “Iowa” entirely by radio. The firing of the boilers, the steering of the ship and all the controls were entirely effected by radio.

The Automaton is kept erect by the stabilizing gyroscopes. The machine does not really walk like a human being, but rather glides along the road over all obstacles by the small caterpiller tractors attached to the feet. This makes it unnecessary for the Automaton to take steps, and the machine will therefore progress by a gliding motion which is quite rapid.

Stabilizing Gyroscopes and Caterpillar Treads

Stabilizing Gyroscopes and Caterpillar Treads

Such a machine would seem to be exceedingly valuable to disperse mobs, or for war purposes and even for industrial purposes. In the upper illustration is shown the police car which controls all the movements of a regiment of such automata.

Radio Control Car and The Thin Automaton Line

Radio Control Car and The Thin Automaton Line

For fighting mobs use is made of tear gas which is stored in a tank under pressure and which alone will quickly disperse a mob if necessary.

Tear Gas Tank and Oulets

Tear Gas Tank and Outlets

The arms are provided with rotating discs which carry lead balls on flexible leads. These act as police clubs in action.

Rotating discs which carry lead balls. on flexible leads.

Rotating discs which carry lead balls on flexible leads.

For night attack the Automaton is provided with eye-lights and the loud speaker is used to shout orders to the mob which orders can be given direct from the radio control car. Inasmuch as this car is always in the rear of the Automata it can watch their movements and direct them as necessitated by circumstances.

Eye Lights, Loud Speaker, and 'Telegraphone'

Eye Lights, Loud Speaker, and ‘Telegraphone’

As a close hand-to-hand lighting machine the Radio- Automata have no equal. Bullets do not affect them and if equipped with a twenty to forty H.P. engine, they will be well nigh irresistible. They probably have no superior for fighting mobs or for war purposes.

The Radio Police Automation - Run for your lives!

The Radio Police Automation – Run for your lives!

‘Future Fantasy’ In 1930 Germany

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German Engineering.

Those words have traditionally conjured up thoughts of quality and creativity. During the period of the Third Reich, physicists, scientists, and engineers were encouraged to stretch their imaginations and develop things that had previously been only dreamed of in science fiction.

While most people are familiar with the works carried out at the The Peenemünde Army Research Center – the birthplace of modern rocketry and spaceflight – very few people are aware of other areas of technological research that had been in progress during that time. A very hushed bit of technological history is the part where the United States and the Soviet Union obtained a wealth of information and designs while pillaging after the fall of the Third Reich. Much of that technological information was incomplete as the scientists and engineers attempted to either hide or destroy it in order to keep it from the victors’ hands.

Because the U.S. required German know-how in order to further develop these technologies the government instituted the now well known Operation Paperclip in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. The celebrated rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, was one alumni from this class. A number of researchers contend that the big UFO phenomenon in the late 1940s and particularly in the 1950s was the result of projects originating at a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base within the Nevada Test and Training Range officially referred to as Restricted Area 4808 North (R-4808N) – popularly known as ‘Area 51’ aka ‘Groom Lake’. It was here that U.S. and Operation Paperclip members worked on the research and development of the German technologies discovered post conflict – including ‘flying disc’ engineering designs. A few of the recognized aircraft developed at Groom Lake are the A-12 OXCART, SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117A Nighthawk – aircraft so advanced that CIA documents acknowledge that they account for dozens of UFO sightings over the years.

One last point relevant to the following pictorial presentation is that while the incredible research and inventions of the great scientist Nikola Tesla were marginalized and ignored in the U.S. due to moneyed interests, the Germans were very much interested in his advanced and forward thinking works. Tesla was passionate about wireless communications and ‘free energy’ – while theoretical physicists obsessed over Newtonian science, Tesla took an electric field and plasma (aether) energy approach. German tech developers seemed to take this approach to heart. One of the most storied and controversial projects of the Third Reich – one that Adolf Hitler counted on until the end – was ‘the secret weapon’ known as ‘Die Glocke’ (‘The Bell’). Some skeptics say that this bizarre anti-gravity device never existed, but there is increasing evidence that it had indeed been at an advanced stage of development previous to the fall of the Third Reich. From the schematics it appears to be very much a Tesla inspired technology.

Now to the fun part of this post. In 1930, a company known as True Wagner Margarine produced the third of a series of books designed as a display for a collection of stickers made available separately. In this book is a section called Future Fantasy. No artist or author is credited. The illustrations are beautiful, the technology is actually quite brilliant and not so far fetched. The book is called, Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, Serien 12 und 13 (Genuine Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, series 12 and 13). It was published by Elmshorn in Holstein, Germany. With what is now known about the developments in German technology during this period, one could imagine that a lot of the designs and ideas presented might have been considered a bit more seriously than ‘fantasy’.

Echte Wagner Album Nr. 3 - Cover Image

Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3 – Cover Image

The Artificial Island

The Artificial Island – Since there is no island located on the shortest route to America which could serve the aircraft as a port of refuge, a good idea is to anchor an artificial landing place on the ocean. Of course, located on the island are hotels, spas, restaurants and a movie theater, so that the passengers have their convenience if a storm detains for several days on the island.

The Rocket Plane

The Rocket Plane – The aircraft of the future powered by rockets. The rockets are fitted at the stern of the vessel, which propel the aircraft forward through the recoil of the escaping gases. The aircraft shown here is just going to skim past the Nankoupaß and the ancient Great Wall Of China with 10000 kilograms of mail on the way from Berlin to Tokyo. Since it has an hourly rate of 1,000 km, it takes nearly 8 hours for the Berlin-Tokyo route. A steamer today needs about 50 days!

The Rocket Airships

The Rocket Airships – The rocket planes have assumed huge proportions and consist only of a pair of wings in the shape of a parabola. The lavishly decorated cabins are built into the wings and take 400 passengers. Because there is no hull, the control fins are located at the ends of the wings. The driver’s cab, from which the missiles are made to fire, is located in the middle of the air cruiser deck.

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion – Here we have the opportunity to meet a plane nearby. Yes, where is the propeller? That was once! The aircraft rises vertically and settles down vertically. The motor is a small capsule, in which the atom fragmentation takes place. On the right is an aircraft and an aircraft parking garage.

A New Driving Force

A New Driving Force – To move loads forwards, one exploits the tremendous power that is released during the disintegration of atoms. All cars drive with only a tiny motor which is driven by nuclear power. The speed of cars has grown accordingly. In the divided road, take 200 to 300 kilometers through the city, on the major highways the speed of 1000 km speed per hour is not uncommon!

Wireless Home Phone and Television

Wireless Home Phone and Television – Each person now has their own transmitter and receiver and can converse on a certain wave with acquaintances and relatives. But the television technology has become so perfected that one can look the friends in the face at the same time. Transmitter and receiver are no longer bound to the location, but is carried in a box the size of a photo apparatus.

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon – Is this not wrong? Shouldn’t the rockets ignite at the stern of the vessel and spew their fire back? No, it’s for accuracy! The ship is landing, and therefore it has brought the Retropackage to deploy and quickly reduce the frenzied speed. Now you can easily make the landing on the Moon.

Spaceship Post

Spaceship Post – Because there are rare minerals on the Moon, capital was formed in America with $20 billion by the MoMA-A.G. (Moon minerals yield A.G.), which maintains a busy space ship traffic. At the stopover, the ships renew their rocket fuel on the ports floating freely in space.

The images above are via Retro-Futurismus – to see more click here.

The Spook Machine Enigma – A Box Of Secrets

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TOP SECRET ENIGMA FILE

[Enigma is] the legendary World War II ciphering machine developed by Berlin engineer Dr. Arthur Scherbius and first manufactured there commercially by the Chiffriermaschinen Aktiengesellschaft [Cipher Machines Corporation] Berlin in 1923. So complex was the Enigma, it was considered capable of producing over 22 billion code combinations without a single repetition. According to an early prospectus, ‘if someone worked continuously day and night and tried a different cipher-key every minute, it would take 42,000 years to exhaust all combination possibilities.

Enigma in action on the Russian front.

Enigma in action on the Russian front.

In operation, each keystroke illuminated a different character and caused one or more rotors to shift fractionally, so that a different combination was created every time. Decryption required codebooks and a list of daily key settings.

How Enigma was finally figured out – and its messages decoded by the Allies – is a storied affair. It began in 1938 with Polish Cipher Bureau cryptologist Marian Rejewski developing his bomba kryptologiczna (Polish for cryptologic bomb). Due to the ‘deteriorating political situation,’ Rejewski and the Poles shared the Enigma-breaking techniques and equipment with the French and British in July 1939. Alan Turing then produced the initial design of the bombe at the UK Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park. Turing’s original design, while brilliant in theory, presented a major impracticality in the physical realm. This was solved in 1940 when Gordon Welchman devised an important design refinement, the ‘diagonal board’, that rendered the device substantially more efficient in the attack on ciphers generated by the German Enigma machine. The engineering design and construction was the work of Harold Keen of the British Tabulating Machine Company. If you are interested in the details of The Turing Bombe you’ll find a wealth of info here.

The Bombe Front and Back. Designed by Alan Turing. Bombe took the form of emulating several hundred Enigma rotors, as well as functioning as a logical electrical circuit to automate the deductions needed to rule out flawed possible attempts.

The Bombe Front and Back. Designed by Alan Turing. Bombe took the form of emulating several hundred Enigma rotors, as well as functioning as a logical electrical circuit to automate the deductions needed to rule out flawed possible attempts. (Photo by Peter Oram)

That’s a lot of computing power and a lot of machine. It emphasizes the incredible cryptologic power of Enigma itself. Wikipedia’s entry on this fascinating machine is quite thorough, click here to learn more about its design and operation, as well as a host of other interesting info. A point well made at Wikipedia is this:

Though Enigma had some cryptographic weaknesses, in practice it was German procedural flaws, operator mistakes, failure to systematically introduce changes in encipherment procedures, and Allied capture of key tables and hardware that, during the war, enabled Allied cryptologists to succeed.

There is beauty in simplicity. Below are some pics of an Enigma K-Model machine, manufactured by Chiffriermaschinen-Ges. Heimsoeth und Rinke, Berlin, c. 1939. Looking at it one would not expect it to be such a robust mystery machine.

4-Rotor Ciphering Machine Enigma K-Model set, with an external lamp panel and a separate power supply in an oak case.

4-Rotor Ciphering Machine Enigma K-Model set, with an external lamp panel and a separate power supply in an oak case.

4-Rotor Ciphering Machine Enigma K-Model set, with an external lamp panel and a separate power supply in an oak case.

Enigma K-Model set, with uplifted covers showing the minimal rotor, key, and external lamp panel design.

The Compact Internal Lamp Panel Fits Between The Key Board and The Rotors.

The Compact Internal Lamp Panel Fits Between The Keyboard and The Rotors.

Expertly Machined Removable Rotors

Expertly Machined Removable Rotors

A Separate Power Supply In An Oak Case

A Separate Power Supply In An Oak Case

A four-rotor German Enigma cypher machine with a second operator display (a 'remote lampboard'), made during World War II. This type of machine, devised by the German Navy in 1939, was used to encode wartime messages requiring a particularly high degree of security. The cracking of German cypher codes by Allied intelligence was a major achievement in cryptanalysis and played a key role in the outcome of the North Atlantic U-boat engagements. The search to crack the the Enigma codes also resulted in 'Colossus', the first all-electronic digital computer. This rare machine is thought to have been used in the post-war years for coding diplomatic traffic in Switzerland.  (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

This type of machine, devised by the German Navy in 1939, was used to encode wartime messages requiring a particularly high degree of security. The capture of German U-boat U-110 on May 9, 1941 in the North Atlantic by the Royal Navy played a key role in the outcome of the North Atlantic U-boat engagements. The Royal Navy had recovered an Enigma machine, its cipher keys, and code books. The recovered materials were taken to Bletchley Park in England, where cryptographers, including computer pioneer Alan Turing, succeeded in breaking the naval code. The codes allowed the U-boat traffic to be read for several weeks, until the keys ran out. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

As can be imagined, history and tech buffs would probably love to get their hands on one of these extraordinary and significant machines. On May 30, 2015, at 10:00 AM CET, someone has an opportunity to do so. Auction Team Breker, in Köln, (Godorf), Germany, have two Enigma machines that will be up for auction on that day. An Enigma M4 Cypher Machine, c. 1942, and an Enigma K-Model, c. 1939. Both are in pristine museum-quality condition. The starting bid for the M4 is €26,000. The starting bid for the K-Model (shown above) is €10,000. Although it is a live auction, bids are being taken now at the Invaluable on-line auction site.

For the rest of us who don’t have thousands to spend on rarities such as this, there are a number of Enigma computer simulations to play with. A few of them are listed below.

Portable Phonographs – MOTOROLA Had It All Covered

Calypso Detail
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Portable phonographs – they were all the rage in 1958 and Zenith had everyone covered. Check out the models below – they were featured in the USA MOTOROLA Dealer Sales Catalog. The pages have been wonderfully preserved by Mark Meijster, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The Moppet - A fun-time partner for the youngsters!

The Moppet – A fun-time partner for the youngsters! The Miracle fabric covering wipes clean in seconds with a damp cloth and is scuff, stain, and scratch resistant.

The Playmate - Styled for the young and the young-at-heart!

The Playmate – Styled for the young and the young-at-heart! This Automatic 4-speed record changer has dual flip-over sapphire styli. Lets you Intermix different size records of the same speed.

The Musicmate - A new and completely captivating combination of radio and phono!

The Musicmate – A new and completely captivating combination of radio and phono! The exhilarating new concept of design is just right for today’s young moderns.

The Calypso - Hi-Fi in fiberglass! The bold new concept of design adds to the glamour of today and tomorrow!

The Calypso – Hi-Fi in fiberglass! The bold new concept of design adds to the glamour of today and tomorrow! High fidelity sound from 3 speakers, hi-fi amplifier and separate bass and treble controls. This portable was designed for people who were really going places.

The illustrations and graphic design on these pages are wonderful examples of the era – as are the colors (and their combinations) of the phonographs themselves.

Something Fascinating That Occurred At The 1934 Chicago World’s Fair

1939 Chicago World's Fair
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World's Fair 'A Century of Progress' - Chicago 1934, Illustration: (Sandor), A. Raymond Katz

World’s Fair ‘A Century of Progress’ – Chicago 1934, Illustration: (Sandor), A. Raymond Katz

In this famous poster for the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair, fan dancer and silent film star Sally Rand, one of the event’s star attractions, points the way to the fair. Rand simulated nudity in her act by wearing a body stocking. The street-sign-like device refers to the unique way the lights were turned on at the beginning of the fair: rays from the star Arcturus were collected at various observatories, focused on photoelectric cells, and converted to electricity. A rhythmic, luminous poster that exemplifies the Machine Age at its most kinetic. – International Poster Gallery

Emphasis added.

The 1964 Visual Telephone System From Bell Labs

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60s Skype - the world’s very first “PICTUREPHONE set” unveiled at the World’s Fair, 1964. (From the Bell Telephone Magazine, 1964, via Prelinger Archive)

60s Skype – the world’s very first “PICTUREPHONE set” unveiled at the World’s Fair, 1964. (From the Bell Telephone Magazine, 1964, via Prelinger Archive)

One wonders why such a huge time lag in developing this technology for everyday use.
(via THE PUBLIC DOMAIN REVIEW)

The Highway Hi-Fi Phonograph…The Music You Want Wherever You Go

Highway Hi-Fi Detail
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The Forward Look - Inserting A Record Into The Highway Hi-Fi

The Forward Look

Innovation was the name of the game in the 1950s. The decade was also a time for the always anticipated family vacation and long road trips. It was on one of these trips that Dr. Peter Goldmark, head of CBS Labs, found inspiration for a novel idea from a question thrown out by his son.

‘Dad,’ Peter suddenly blurted out. ‘Why don’t they have adventure stories on the radio? Something you can put on yourself. This stuff can be so boring.’

The question stuck in his head and soon he went to work. Goldmark invented the Highway Hi-Fi – an under-the-dash ‘ultra microgroove record turntable‘ designed specifically for the automobile (and all the challenges of the American roads.)

I started to wonder how much information one can put on a small record for use in a car without a changer. The answer, it turned out, is easy to figure. To give us forty-five minutes of playing time on a side, as much content as both sides of an LP, and to give us a record small enough to fit with its mechanism inside the glove compartment, the record would have to be seven inches in diameter and would have to revolve at 16 2/3 rpm, one-half of the LP speed. In addition it required almost three times the number of grooves per inch as did the LP.     – Dr. Peter Goldmark

Maverick Inventor by Dr. Peter Goldmark (Copyright (c) 1973 by Peter C. Goldmark and Lee Edson)  (via Imperial Club)

Goldmark chose to approach Chrysler with the prototype:

We all piled into one of the executive cars, which had been outfitted with one of my sets. Lynn Townsend, who later became president of the auto company, sat in back with me while the then president of Chrysler drove. The executives gave the tone arm the same test as before-over cobblestones, around curves, over washboard roads, slowing down, speeding up, even emergency stops. The jolts were incredible. But so was the record player. Nothing could stop it from carrying out its appointed mission…

With music filling the air, the president wheeled the car into the company garage. Townsend turned to me and said, ‘I must have it for the Chrysler.’ Everybody else agreed and chanted, ‘Yes, we must have it.’    – Dr. Goldmark

Maverick Inventor by Dr. Peter Goldmark (Copyright (c) 1973 by Peter C. Goldmark and Lee Edson)  (via Imperial Club)

Chrysler Highway Hi-Fi Advert 1956

Chrysler Highway Hi-Fi Advert – 1956 (image via The Art Of Sound)

Chrysler featured the unit in their automobiles for the 1956-1958 model years. The records for the system were manufactured exclusively by Columbia Special Products. The Boxed Set of records that came with the Highway Hi-Fi contained an eclectic mix of music and drama. The set contained:

Romantic Moods (Side 1) & Quiet Jazz (Side 2)
Music of Cole Porter (Side 1) & Music of Victor Herbert (Side 2)
Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett (Side 1) & Champion (Side 2)
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #6 in B Minor (Side 1) & Borodin: Polovtsian Dances (Side 2)
The Pajama Game (Sides 1&2)
Paul Gregory Presents (Side 1) & Don Juan in Hell (Side 2)

(source: Imperial Club)

Dr. Goldmark felt that the loss of consumer interest in the Highway Hi-Fi ‘lay in the fact that Chrysler and Columbia Records failed to do proper marketing by not advising potential customers how to obtain additional records. Dealers failed to stock them, and little or no attempt was made to see that they did. Without this stimulus to buying, the car buyer didn’t order the optional record player in the numbers…envisioned.’ The price for the Highway Hi-Fi was also a bit exorbitant – nearly $200 (over $1,700 today). (source: Consumer Reports)

Popular Orchestra and Band Leader Lawrence Welk Endorsing The Highway Hi-Fi in his 1956 Dodge Convertible

Popular Orchestra and Band Leader Lawrence Welk Endorsing The Highway Hi-Fi in his 1956 Dodge Convertible (image via The Art Of Sound)

In 1958 the Dutch electronics company, Philips, introduced the Philips Mignon to the European market. The Mignon was an automatic record player designed for use in automobiles as well. Unlike the Highway Hi-Fi that required the long-play 16 2/3 ultra-groove records, Philips’ record player played standard 45rpm discs.

Philips Mignon Automatic Record Player Advert - 1959

Philips Mignon Automatic Record Player Advert – 1959 (image via DUAL board)

Even though one could just slip the record into the player and have it automatically eject when the content was over, changing the disc every few minutes was not only tedious, it was also a dangerous distraction for the driver. Despite these inconveniences, the Philips Mignon stayed in the market until the late 1960s. Philips offered the Mignon in the States via Norelco.

George Harrison had a Philips Mignon record player fitted to his brand new 1964 Jaguar E-Type 3.8.

George Harrison had a Philips Mignon record player fitted to his brand new 1964 Jaguar E-Type 3.8. (image via The Art Of Sound)

In 1960 Chrysler decided to offer a less expensive under-the-dash record player – The RCA Victor AP-1 aka Victrola. It cost $51.75 ($410.47 today) and played standard 45rpm records. The Victrola also held 14 records and could play for 2½ hours continuously, if extended play 45s were used.

RCA AP-1 Automobile Record Player Advert - 1960

RCA Victor Victrola Auto Record Player Advert – 1960 (image via Motor City Radio Flashbacks)

After testing both the Philips Mignon and the RCA Victrola, Consumer Reports decided that the Victrola ‘was, overall, more satisfactory than the Norelco “Auto Mignon,” as a means of bringing self-selected music to the lonely motorist.’ Despite the advantages of the Victrola, RCA decided to discontinue production after the first model year.

So, why did the least favorable of all three automobile phonographs end up having the longest life on the market? It’s clear that the Highway Hi-Fi was the best engineered and the most high tech. The Victrola offered the convenience of standard play records and less interruption compared to the Mignon, yet it had a shorter market life than the Highway Hi-Fi. What the Mignon had that the others did not was availability. Both the Hi-Fi and the Victrola were auto specific. The Mignon was available for installation for most car brands – the other two were only available in Chryslers.

In 1981, Philips (in a collaboration with Sony Electronics) introduced the digital compact disc (CD) to the world on the BBC television program Tomorrow’s World. This would signal what many thought to be the end of vinyl recordings all together – and at first it looked inevitable. But, in recent years music lovers have created a comeback of sorts for the rich sound and the quirky pops of the analog record.

Still, don’t expect to see an attempted reintroduction to the automobile phonograph. That idea will forever remain a novel ‘cultural addition to (the) American autointoxication’ of the mid 20th century.