Category:
Technology

A system for climbing vertical surfaces

The French patent office granted Raymond Saulnier a patent in 1951 for "a system for climbing vertical surfaces." A British patent followed in 1952.

Saulnier had come up with a way to allow vehicles, or even people, to climb vertical surfaces without the aid of ropes. His insight was that climbing any slope is essentially a problem of adhesion. If a force stronger than gravity is pushing you against the slope, then you won't slide down. And that adhesive force could be supplied by the downward pressure of propellors or jet nozzles.



Of course, powering propellors or jet nozzles requires a lot of energy. So Saulnier imagined powering them with compressed air supplied by a tube from the ground. He suggested that firefighters, among others, might find his system useful for scaling the sides of buildings.

I've never seen a prototype of Saulnier's invention in action. But when I was in Target the other day, I noticed a Sharper Image-branded toy named the "Gravity Rover" that "climbs from floor to wall to ceiling." It occurred to me that this was Saulnier's invention transformed into a toy.

It's a pretty cool toy, but based on videos of it, extremely loud.



Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 26, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Technology, Toys, Patents

The Honeywell Kitchen Computer

In 1969, Neiman Marcus offered a Honeywell "kitchen computer" in its Christmas catalog. The price tag was $10,600, which is equivalent to about $80,000 today. The price included a two-week course in programming, which was required to know how to use the computer. The computer could supposedly store recipes and help housewives plan meals.

No one ever bought one. Or rather, no one ever bought the "kitchen computer," but a few people (engineers, and the like) did buy the H316 minicomputer, which is what the kitchen computer really was. Neiman Marcus and Honeywell had simply repackaged the H316 as a kitchen computer.

Nevertheless, the "kitchen computer" is now credited as being the very first time a company had offered a home computer for sale. One of them is on display at the Computer History Museum.

More info: wikipedia

image source: Divining a Digital Future, by Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell



If someone had bought one of the kitchen computers, it would have been pretty much unusable, because a user had to communicate with it in binary code, using a series of 16 buttons on the front to enter data. From Wired:

The thought that an average person, like a housewife, could have used it to streamline chores like cooking or bookkeeping was ridiculous, even if she aced the two-week programming course included in the $10,600 price tag. If the lady of the house wanted to build her family’s dinner around broccoli, she’d have to code in the green veggie as 0001101000. The kitchen computer would then suggest foods to pair with broccoli from its database by "speaking" its recommendations as a series of flashing lights.


image source: The Computer, by Mark Frauenfelder

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 22, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Technology, Computers, 1960s

Miss Electronics of 1950 and Miss Microwave

The Institute of Radio Engineers chose 19-year-old Toy Palaske to be "Miss Electronics of 1950." She got to wear a swimsuit covered with electronics symbols and a crown topped with a television antenna.

A few papers reported a different title for her, "Miss Microwave of 1950".

I assume she was both simultaneously.

(left) Pasadena Independent - Sep 15, 1950; (right) Los Angeles Mirror - Sep 14, 1950

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 07, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Technology, 1950s

Recc Queens:  1957-1991

What does RECC stand for? "Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation." Bringing electricity to the sticks.

Read a short history here.

And what would any self-respecting organization be without crowning a queen? The photos here start in 1957 and go to 1991.











Posted By: Paul - Fri Oct 27, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Hillbillies, Country Bumpkins, Ruralism and Flyover Country, Technology, Twentieth Century

Project Primrose

As a follow-up to Paul's recent post about the electric clothing of Diana Dew (from 1967)... here's a present-day electric dress recently unveiled by Adobe.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 17, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Fashion, Technology, 2020s

The Electric Clothing of Diana Dew

According to Lobenthal, Dew was an electrical engineer who flaunted a different hair color every day and created a miniature battery pack that attached to the belt of a dress to create blinking hearts and stars. “They’re hyperdelic transsensory experiences,” she said of her garments to Time Magazine in 1967, the same year The New Yorker wrote about her. (If your wired mini breaks down, “Please just take it to the nearest radio-TV repair shop,” Dew said.) Lobenthal writes that Dew’s tiny power source was eventually acquired by the U.S. military.


Her Wikipedia page.







Posted By: Paul - Sat Oct 14, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Fashion, Technology, 1960s

Mystery Gadget 107

What's this device for?

The answer is here.


Or after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Sun Oct 08, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Technology, Twentieth Century

No more queues in grocery stores

We got the computerized food scanners, but we've still got checkout lines. What happened?

North Bay Nugget - May 29, 1974

Posted By: Alex - Mon Sep 18, 2023 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology, 1970s, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Anti-Bulbsnatcher Device

This post is partially a tribute to the end of the incandescent bulb, after its long and glorious reign.

For many years, GE conducted an ad campaign to discourage people from moving lightbulbs around from one fixture to another in a lazy manner, instead of always having a closetful of replacement bulbs. If only GE had invested in the patent which follows these ads, for a device that would not allow a bulb to be unscrewed with breaking it.







Full patent here.





Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 22, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Domestic, Inventions, Patents, Technology, 1930s

Miss Juke Box, Revisited

A few months ago, I made a post titled "Miss Juke Box" that involved a song of that name. But now, with more diligent research, I actually find some beauty contest queens under that rubric. Alas, I cannot identify the woman in the first photo.









Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 15, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Music, Technology, Twentieth Century

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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