Popular Science

On this Throwback Thursday, we go back 75 years to the Popular Science of September 1939.

The Magazine Cost 15 Cents

But it was worth 25! (In 2014, each copy will cost you $5 on the newsstand.)

September 1939

Things We Take For Granted Now Were Brand New, Like…

Cameras in Police Cars

Movie Camera In Police Car Puts Evidence On Film.

There’s no arguing with the testimony of this movie camera.

And Windshield Wiper Fluid

This Windshield Wiper Washes It, Too!

Windshields are automatically washed and scrubbed with clean water by a new automobile accessory available on a popular make of car. Turning a dashboard switch sends a stream of water from a small reservoir tank across the windshield glass, and the standard wiper blade completes the cleaning operation.

Some Inventions Were Not So Great

Like this baby walker, for parents who never want to touch their children.

Engineer Builds Baby Walker.

To teach his young son to walk, a Swiss engineer built the curious apparatus shown above. Pairs of wooden arms are strapped at one end to the infant’s legs and at the other to the legs of an adult, so that the latter can control the baby’s leg movements. A harness connected to a pulley on an overhead wire holds the child upright while it is taking its first steps.

And behind-the-back cigarette holders. (Seems perfectly safe.)

Novel Cigarette Holder Keeps Smoke From Eyes.

If smoke getst in your eyes, or you are warned to stay away from cigarettes, you may welcome the solution to both these problems adopted by the Englishman pictured above. Using a length of semiflexible metal tubing to put distance between his cigarette holder and its mouthpiece, he heads upwind to read his paper, undisturbed by falling ashes or eye-watering tobacco smoke.

Other Inventions Were Awesome, But Never Made It

Doughnut Dunkers!

Because food on a stick is always a good idea.

Handle On Doughnut Is Boon To Dunkers.

Major hazards involved in the popular indoor sport of dunking doughnuts in hot coffee are said to be greatly reduced by the invention of a new type of “sinker” with a baked-in handle that should prove a boon to all dunking enthusiasts. Triangular in shape, the improved doughnut is fried around a wooden handle, making it far easier to maneuver in and out of a steaming draught of Java.

And air-conditioned bedding

All-Season Quilt Is Air-Conditioned

By means of an electric fan, air that is artificially heated or chilled is blown through a flexible hose into the lining of the coverlet. Here the air is distributed evenly over the entire area of the quilt through branching air ducts, finally filtering through the porous inner lining.

And musical cakes.

Musical Cake Plays A Tune.

A diminutive music box is embedded in the bottom of the cake, and set off when a string is cut with the knife that cuts into the cake. Eighteen separate tunes are available, ranging from “Rockabye Baby” all the way to “Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Wolf?”

Long Reads

A feature-length article documents researchers who were putting patients into a coma to try to cure their cancer. Read it in its entirety (and absurdity) here: Can “Frozen Sleep” Cure Cancer?

Popular Science examines how the world will end. (Hint: Burning, freezing, and the exploding Moon are some possibilities.)

_You can read the full September 1939 issue here. _


“A giant meteor running wild through space… may strike the Earth and spread havoc with its impact and scorching breath.”