This week I was inspired by my flight to Detroit to check out the June 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics which I picked up at the SOWA Vintage Market back in February; the one with the cut-out diagram of a passenger plane making the flight look like a cruise ship in full-out party mode.
AGE OF AERIAL MONSTERS
The feature article is called, “Age of Aerial Monsters,” and describes the “new” DC-4 which was in the midst of being designed by Douglas Airplane in the late 1930s. It is filled with comparisons to earlier models, such as its four engines providing more power than three (really?), weights, speeds, etc. etc. blah, blah, blah…and promises the really good stuff can’t be divulged because they are military secrets.
(As a side note, I was surprised at how much military content there is in this issue, considering we were not at war…yet.)
This may sound very low-brow, but the best part of the article is the pictures! I mean really, I’m no mechanic or engineer, but I have traveled in a plane. And oh man it’s nothing like they envisioned back in 1938! Easy chairs, dining tables, beds!!! I quote:
Inside the huge cabin various arrangements of comfortable lounge chairs, reclining chairs or sleeping berths are to be installed according to the desires of the different air lines. The different plans all include dressing rooms and a large galley under the care of a steward and stewardess.
Well today’s planes do have reclining chairs (that recline right into the person behind you), and if by dressing rooms they mean bathrooms, then we do have those too (if you can bear to squeeze in it).
I’ll be on the lookout for the sleeping berths on my flight home next week!
Some other gems from this issue:
NEWSPAPERS THAT TALK
“Hurry to Police Headquarters with the sound box. Get every word of that murderer’s confession so our readers will be able to play it tonight when they see the pictures!”
So starts the piece that predicts reporters carrying “portable recording devices” on the job. This did, of course, come true.
But it then goes on to say that newspaper stories, and even comics, will be printed with an accompanying “series of wavy lines constituting sound tracks…cutting these sound tracks apart and pasting them together in a continuous strip, the reader will put them in an inexpensive reproducing devise attached to his loud speaker.” Uhhh…sounds a bit labor intensive to me…you could spend all day just cutting and pasting pieces of paper together!
AERIAL MAILBOX IS DRIVEN BY ELECTRIC TROLLEY
…or, guy with long trip to mailbox straps a sewing machine motor to said box, and attaches to a track system. No really, an inventive Popular Mechanics reader did this, see:
PATIENT ADMINISTERS THE GAS BY CONTROLLING HAND BULB
This contraption is supposed to lessen the patients’ fear of being gassed at the dentist by allowing them to control its administration. Personally I am way more scared of having a baby grey alien strapped to my head than of being gassed.
Ok enough! As you can see, old magazines are truly a special kind of time capsule!
What inventions do you wish we had? Do you have any stories of old-time future-looking? Share in the comments, or over on Facebook!