Category:
Technology

Commercial Telegraph Codes

I was randomly browsing old publications online when I ran across this ad. Thinking about the topic of Communication Codes, I found it hard to believe we had never covered it at WU. But apparently not.



In telecommunication, a commercial code is a code once used to save on cablegram costs.[1]...These codes turned complete phrases into single words (commonly of five letters). These were not always genuine words; for example, codes contained "words" such as BYOXO ("Are you trying to weasel out of our deal?"), LIOUY ("Why do you not answer my question?"), BMULD ("You're a skunk!"), or AYYLU ("Not clearly coded, repeat more clearly.").


Here is a page linking to many digitized volumes.



Posted By: Paul - Tue Mar 02, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Business, Technology, Codes, Cryptography, Puzzles, Riddles, Rebuses and Other Language Alterations, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century

The Mechanized Restaurant

British inventor Thomas Maldwyn Lewis and his partners apparently had some expertise in conveyor-belt technology. So they cast about for novel ways to apply this knowledge. What they came up with was the "mechanized restaurant". Their idea was to put diners on a conveyor belt and move them past serving stations. From their 1948 patent:

In accordance with our invention, the customers are provided with seats and if desired footrests moving in a continuous manner along with a table or like surface, the different courses being placed upon the table at definite positions in the travel of the table so that when the traverse of any particular seat is completed, the occupant has completed his meal and may move to a seat in a lounge or the like to rest and/or to finish his meal with a coffee or the like which may be supplied just before the said traverse is completed.





The inventors argued that this mechanization of the dining experience would "expedite the delivery of meals and enable more meals to be served with the use of a given floor area than is at present possible."

That may be true, but I doubt many restaurant owners would want to invest the money to build one of these, just for the sake of potentially serving a few more meals.

Not to mention the problem of slow eaters. I'm imagining a crowd of diners standing at the end of the conveyor belt, plates in hand, trying to finish their meals.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 21, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Restaurants, Technology, 1940s

Two Strange Asian Ads

I have no idea what any of this means.





Posted By: Paul - Fri Feb 19, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology, Advertising, Asia

Kirby’s Flying Ballet



This is the apparatus that famously caused Mary Martin to fly as Peter Pan.

Wikipedia page for Peter Foy.





Posted By: Paul - Thu Feb 18, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology, Theater and Stage, Special Effects, 1950s, 1960s

The Human Relationship Simulator

This post seemed appropriate for Valentine's Day, since it's about an engineer's attempt to use machine logic to improve the "ambiguities of the woman/man relationship".

James F. Hollander was a patent attorney with a degree in electrical engineering. In the late 1970s he invented and patented what he called the "Human Relationship Simulator". It consisted of a box with various dials.

Even after reading his patent, and an article about his invention, I'm not exactly sure how the thing operated. From what I can gather, if a couple were having an argument, or needed to make a decision (such as where to go for dinner), they could both adjust dials on the Simulator, and it would give them an answer. And measure the intensity of their feelings.

The Relationship Simulator



Here's more info from a 1977 article in the Asbury Park Press:

Taking a hypothetical issue, such as a man and woman deciding whether or not to go out to dinner, information is fed into the panels. One represents the man; the other, the woman.

Each subject uses dials that represent four areas — compliance with society, attention to own desire, social pressure and personal inclination. The personal inclination and social pressure gauges are intricately detailed to show adamant 'yes' or 'no' responses, or degrees such as strong preference, or very much or some.

Attention to desire is measured in readings of low, medium and high, as is compliance with society.

As the subjects feed this information into the panels, other gauges measure tension, feelings, guilt or pride, emotional independence, like and dislike, and influence, based on each decision.

The machine does the thinking, lights a decision of 'yes' or 'no' and tells the subjects their emotional responses....

In a marriage situation, Hollander said the device could show the individuals why something is going wrong in the relationship if arguments are portrayed and feelings defined.

"I wanted to pick out the ambiguities of the woman/man relationship," he pointed out.

Asbury Park Press - Aug 29, 1977



If that doesn't seem entirely clear, then here's a sample from Hollander's patent:

The decision voltage output of the man-simulator is connected to the threshold detector of the woman-simulator via a sense port. Similarly, the woman-simulator has a decision voltage output port connected to a sense port and input to the level threshold detector of the man-simulator. A switch interrupts each output so that the effect of relationship can be shown. By adjustment and interpretation of the dial settings and decision indications, paradoxes and problems in man-woman relationships are demonstrated.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 14, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Technology, Psychology, Marriage, 1970s, Love & Romance

Mystery Gadget 92

What's it for?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Feb 01, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Technology

Butler In A Box

Before there was Alexa or Google Voice, there was the Butler In a Box. It was invented in the early 1980s by Gus Searcy, a professional magician, with help from Franz Kavan, a computer programmer. In response to voice commands it could control connected household devices. So, it could operate the lights, turn on the heat, make a phone call, etc.

About 9000 of them were reportedly sold. But at around $1500, the gadget was too expensive. Plus, the voice recognition was somewhat buggy. By the early 1990s they were off the market, but there's still some of them for sale on eBay.

More info: Popular Science (Mar 1987), vcfed.org

Austin American-Statesman - Aug 6, 1989



Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 29, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Technology, Computers, 1980s

The Balance Watch

In 2005, John Paul Castro of Santa Monica, CA was granted a patent (No. 6,840,665) for what he called the "Balance Watch". From his patent:

A balance watch, a combination of two watches, one measuring hours, the other measuring minutes and/or seconds. Each watch is worn on a separate wrist simultaneously.


Based on the quality of the artwork in his patent, it's apparent he chose not to splurge and hire a professional illustrator.

As far as I know, the balance watch never made it to market. But it would seem easy enough to make your own. Get two identical watches. Remove the minute hand from one, and the hour hand from the other. Then wear them simultaneously on opposite wrists.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 17, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Fashion, Inventions, Technology

The Aeolus Wind Car Competition

The event got cancelled in 2020, but plans to resume this year.



Forty seconds of narration in French preface this second video.



Posted By: Paul - Sun Jan 10, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Contests, Races and Other Competitions, Technology, Environmentalism and Ecology, Cars

Mystery Gadget 91

What's going on here?

The answer is at the source.

Or after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jan 08, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Technology, 1920s

Page 3 of 44 pages  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›




weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
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.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
December 2021 •  November 2021 •  October 2021 •  September 2021 •  August 2021 •  July 2021 •  June 2021 •  May 2021 •  April 2021 •  March 2021 •  February 2021 •  January 2021

December 2020 •  November 2020 •  October 2020 •  September 2020 •  August 2020 •  July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •