As terrifying as this cover is, we won't lie, it's a pretty accurate depiction of how we feel about our vehicles on a bad day. Car maintenance doesn't come naturally to everyone, least of all first-time car owners in the 1920s. This week, we're taking a look at some old school car safety and maintenance tips, mostly from the glory days of stick shift and all that entailed for rookie motorists.
Our archives are filled with terrifying things -- flying tanks, radium faucets, and groundbreaking lobotomy techniques, to name a couple -- but few of them are as deliberately scary as the past century's amusement park rides and attractions. With names like The Wastebasket of Dizziness, The Ring of Death, and the Corkscrew of Fate, how could they not instill terror in even the most seasoned roller coaster enthusiasts?
The early 20th century saw the Golden Age of Roller Coasters, as well as the peak of Coney Island's popularity. As amusement parks flourished, so did our interest in thrill rides. How did engineers prevent roller coaster cars from toppling off the track? How did the Parachute Jump ensure soft, and not splattered, landings? And why would anybody want to roller skate down a loop-the-loop?
In between the newest line of Amazon Kindles,the upcoming iPhone 5 announcement, and the ever-increasing ubiquity of cameras and video game consoles, it's safe to say that we're living in the golden age of gadgets. For all the purposes they serve, our little devices reflect a singular priority among gadget geeks and newbies alike: sleekness. Few things make a gadget more desirable than beautifully packaged convenience.
Of course, the definition of "sleek" is relative to what's available for purchase. Nowadays, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is considered heavy at 5.6 pounds, but in the early 1920s, Corona's seven pound typewriter garnered praise for being lightweight. And even though the mid-nineties weren't that long ago, it's still amusing to see movie characters from that decade whip out cell phones the size of frying pans. If you enjoy comically large portable devices as much as we do, you're in luck because we've collected several more examples from our archives.
Radio hats. DIY jetpacks. Even those of us who never experienced a time when you could purchase science projects for $4.95 and telescope lenses for $1.95 can't help feeling a twinge of longing looking at these crowded, black-and-white illustrations.
A part of their charm lies in the element of surprise. Nowadays, you can scour a product's reviews online and zoom in on its photos before committing to a purchase. But magazine coupons are risky. Like Calvin, you could wait six weeks for a propeller beanie only for it to break upon assembly (and for your pet tiger to scoff when you demonstrate it for him). On the other hand, you could rip open the box to find something completely wonderful.
Venture into any apartment, and you're likely to find an object used for something other than its intended purpose. We've seen ground coffee used to repel ants, curtain fabric used as wallpaper, cardboard boxes used as coffee tables, and to the delight of DIY enthusiasts everywhere, a La-Z-Boy converted into a motorized easy chair. While most of us don't possess the expertise needed to turn chairs into moving vehicles, we've all struggled with the question of whether to dispose of an old household item, or to save it in case it came in handy later. Care to guess what PopSci would tell you to do?
In the early 1950s, we grappled with a life-changing dilemma: to buy a color TV set, or not to buy a color TV set? In retrospect, the right answer seems obvious, but the hassle of switching systems in those days meant that viewing black and white images was more tolerable than shelling out the money needed to make the transition.
A brief history lesson for those of you unacquainted with that era: in October 1950, following years of squabbling between various corporations, the FCC finally authorized CBS' system of color broadcasts as the national standard. Despite their successful campaign, CBS ran into a number of problems once they actually starting implementing their technology. Firstly, 10.5 million black and white TV sets had been purchased nationwide, and none of them could receive color programs. Since viewership was limited, advertisers were hesitant to sponsor programs that practically no one would see. The venture was doomed.