Essay / Misc.

Popular Mechanics 1905

If you’re like me, you’re about 100 years behind the curve on understanding technology. Sure, you can make all the latest electronic doo-dads beep and hum and chug, but when you have to actually explain their functioning, you start sounding superstitious. “I touch the magic spot twice, and the machine knows what I want somehow, if I am a good boy.”

Well, it’s Popular Mechanics to the rescue! No, not the latest issues, but the ones from a hundred years ago. Google Books has scanned them and made them available online. Endless fun awaits you at this wonderful archive. Hear the tone of breathless excitement over the cutting-edge popular science of the last century, as it combines truly helpful information (how a hydraulic dam works), politically incorrect terminology, quaintly outdated gadgets, and geeky diagrams with their own strange beauty.

In fifteen minutes’ browsing I found these wonders:

A Perfectly Bristly Diagram of All the Parts of a Buggy:
all parts of buggy

Helpful Instructions on How to Telephone: “Said an expert: ‘If I were to lay down a rule for telephoning, I should say, keep the chin well up and speak with a large amount of air in the chest, articulate slowly and distinctly and use the lips; that is, throw the voice in the front part of the mouth –and be courteous.”
how to phone

And two ingenious labor-saving devices that allow you to execute yourself
will execute himself

and sing at your own funeral:
Irish requiem

Many other (non-death-related) items await you there!

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