Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Browse by Decade
Amazonian
Advertisements

Advertisements

Search
Advertisements

Amazon Fun

Navigation

Entries in time magazine (5)

Sunday
Mar132011

Coming to America: Alpha the Robot Hops the Pond (1934)

February, 1934 Practical Mechanics (image: http://www.davidbuckley.net/)

In 1932 American newspapers started publishing wildly exaggerated stories about a British robot named Alpha that allegedly blinked to life, rose to his feet, and shot his inventor. Some of the stories quoted the inventor, Harry May, as saying that he knew Alpha would turn against him one day. An editorial from Louisiana even proclaimed that the era of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was upon us. But just two years later Alpha made a trip to the United States in a whirlwind of guns, gizmos and girls.

In this film from 1934 we see Alpha shooting a gun loaded with blanks, answering questions about his height and weight, and being particularly mean to a brunette who apparently wasn't blonde enough to be Alpha's bride. Though Professor May claimed that Alpha autonomously responded to speech with 20 or 30 wax cylinders that played pre-recorded answers, this seems quite unlikely.

The November 5, 1934 issue of Time magazine describes a demonstration of Alpha at Macy's department store in Manhattan:

Last week Alpha, the robot, made its first public appearance in the U. S. One of the most ingenious automatons ever contrived by man, a grim and gleaming monster 6 ft. 4 in. tall, the robot was brought to Manhattan by its owner-inventor-impresario, Professor Harry May of London, and installed on the fifth floor of R. H. Macy & Co.'s department store. Encased from head to foot in chromium-plated steel armor, Alpha sat on a specially constructed dais with its cumbrous feet securely bolted to the floor, stared impassively over the knot of newshawks and store officials waiting for the first demonstration. The creature had a great sullen slit of a mouth, vast protuberant eyes, shaggy curls of rolled metal. In one mailed fist Alpha clutched a revolver.

It's rather peculiar to read later in the article that he's described as giving a Nazi salute during the demonstration. There's no clear indication of what could be viewed as a Nazi salute from the film I've seen, and without a byline for the Time article I can't even begin to guess about the writer's sympathies.

The end of the article does help to clarify what happened that day, when Alpha was purported to have sprung to life and shot his inventor:

Once it fired its pistol without warning, blasting the skin off the professor's arm from wrist to elbow. Another time it lowered its arm unexpectedly, struck an assistant on the shoulder, bruised him so badly that he was hospitalized.

Top image cropped from a February, 1934 issue of Practical Mechanics magazine featured at davidbuckley.net

Thursday
Sep272007

The Disease of the Future (1970)

The August 3, 1970 issue of Time magazine profiles Alvin Toffler and his book Future Shock. An excerpt appears below but you can read the entire article here.

What brings on future shock, according to Toffler, is a rate of social change that has become so fast as to be impossible for most human beings to assimilate. "The malaise, mass neurosis, irrationality and free-floating violence already apparent in contemporary life are merely a foretaste of what may lie ahead unless we come to understand and treat this disease," Toffler argues. "Future shock arises from the superimposition of a new culture on an old one. It is culture shock in one's own society. But its impact is far worse. For most travelers have the comforting knowledge that the culture they left behind will be there to return to. The victim of future shock does not."


See also:
Future Shock (1972)
Future Shock - Electrical Stimulation (1972)
Future Shock - Skin Color (1972)
Future Shock - Babytorium (1972)
Headlines of the Near Future (1972)
Progress to Counter Catastrophe Theory? (1975)
Going Backward into 2000 (1966)
Technology and Man's Future (1972)

 

Tuesday
Feb272007

Journey Into Space (TIME Magazine, 1952)

"Pressure suits will improve, say the space doctors, but not enough to permit their wearers to work freely in a vacuum for long periods of time. Dr. Fritz Haber of the School of Space Medicine believes that the whole space-suit idea will have to be abandoned. If space men want to float around outside their space ship (as they did in the movie, Destination Moon), they will have to stay inside rigid cylinders and do their work by remote-control devices operated from inside."

The entire article from the December 8, 1952 issue of TIME magazine can be read here.

Thursday
Feb222007

What to do with all this leisure time? (1966)

"By 2000, the machines will be producing so much that everyone in the U.S. will, in effect, be independently wealthy. With Government benefits, even nonworking families will have, by one estimate, an annual income of $30,000-$40,000 (in 1966 dollars). How to use leisure meaningfully will be a major problem, and Herman Kahn foresees a pleasure-oriented society full of 'wholesome degeneracy.'"

The entire article from the February 25, 1966 issue of TIME can be read here.

For the record, $40,000 in 1966 dollars is the equivalent of just under $250,000 in 2007 dollars, according to the Inflation Calculator.

Friday
Feb162007

The Futurists of 1966 Looking Toward A.D. 2000

"Nearly all experts agree that bacterial and viral diseases will have been virtually wiped out. Probably arteriosclerotic heart disease will also have been eliminated. Cells have only a few secrets still hidden from probers, who are confident that before the year 2000 they will have found the secret that causes cancer. The most exciting, and to some the most frightening, prospect is the chemical and electrical treatment of the brain. Dr. David Krech, psychology professor at the University of California, believes that retarded infants will be diagnosed at birth, and chemical therapy will permit them to function as normal people. The memory loss accompanying senility will be eliminated."

The entire article from the February 25, 1966 issue of TIME can be read here.