Archive for the ‘Sooner than you think’ Category

Tech controversy 1908: PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

February 15, 2015

Tech controversy 1908: PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

The San Francisco Call | July 9 1908 | page 1
retyped from http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1908-07-09/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1836&index=0&rows=20&words=BARS+FROM+MAGNATE+PHONE+STANFORD+WIRELESS&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=phone+magnate+bars+wireless+from+stanford&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

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PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

Trustee Hopkins Orders Experimenter from Laboratory When Voices Sound

Stock Holder in  Commercial  System Resents Sordid Spirit of Worker

Brave Professors Comes to Aid of Young Scientist with Offer of Barn

When advancement of  learning  leads to sordid gain should it be frowned upon by a university? Trustee Timothy Hokins [sic] of Stanford, the temporary business manager of the institution while Treasurer Charles G. Lathrop is away, has answered this question emphatically in the affirmative by withholding the privileges of the laboratories for a brilliant young graduate of the cardinal institution, who has lately developed some startling improvement in wireless telephony.

Dr. C. D. Marx,  head of the department of civil engineering and a member of the commission of engineers, engaged in the rebuilding of the university, has answered the question just as emphatically in the negative by installing the apparatus of the young inventor in his spacious barn,  where  it is said that the system has proven so successful that the professor’s livestock have been driven into a  state of panic by the mysterious voices in the loft of their home.

IS HEAVY STOCK HOLDER

Friends of C.F. Elwell, the inventor in the case, have been unkind enough to suggest that Hopkins was moved to issue his ukase by the fact that he is a heavy stock holder and a member of the executive board of the Pacific States telephone and telegraph company. They point to the significant fact that the apparatus of the big steel tower of the ruined library building was allowed to remain  undisturbed  as long as the university authorities believed that it was there to catch dots and dashes and not vocal sounds.

Elwell has become well known for his original work in electrical engineering and long before his graduation he was made an assistant in that department at Stanford. Last year his work attracted the attention of the men who are trying to sell a wireless telephone system to the government, and the young engineer was appointed to conduct experiments for the company on this coast. The backers the enterprise supplied him with $6,000 worth of apparatus, and while college was still open he used this in conjunction with the electrical and chemical laboratories of the university.

OVERLOOK PHONE SIDE

As soon as Stanford closed for the summer he applied to Hopkins for the privilege of using the  laboratories during the vacation period, and it is said that the business manager, still laboring under the delusion that the experiments were concerned with wireless telegraphy alone, granted the required permission without question.

The secret was well kept for a time, but the voices in the tower swore at central one day, and Hopkins must have been passing at the time, for the inventor was summoned to his office and ordered to remove himself and his apparatus from the campus.

Asked for a reason for this order, the business manager declared that the project was purely a commercial affair, and ans such should be given neither the aid nor the sanction of the university. With no place to take his expensive apparatus, Elwell was in danger of despair until Marx came forward with his offer of a refuge.

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The Measured Circle note: it’s fascinating that we already see the narrative of a corporate interest trying to prevent disruption to its industry. Wireless voice transmission? Sounds like a cellphone…which may make the use of one in Oz a few years later less impressive (The Wizard of Oz invented the cellphone). Is it also being suggested here that it was profanity that led to the shutdown (“…the voices in the tower swore at central one day”), or was that just because it was loud enough to be overheard? If the former, it mirrors issues which still exist today.

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Gilligan’s Drone

June 7, 2014

Gilligan’s Drone

“Sooner than you think” is a series of posts on The Measured Circle where we find that things we think are modern have actually been around a bit longer than that…

While you may not think of Gilligan’s Island as a geeky TV series, there were certainly elements of fantasy and sometimes science fiction in it.

In

Gilligan’s Living Doll (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

a second season episode by Bob Stevens (originally broadcast on February 10, 1966), a robot is accidentally dropped on the island.

The castaways try to use it to get off the island (of course).

What you might find surprising is how we are told the robot got on the island in the first place:

“…and the drone plane which accidentally ejected the robot XR-1000 landed at Vanderburg Air Field. Since the airplane was operated by remote control, the officials have no way of knowing where the robot was ejected.”

That’s right: in 1966, a fictional aerial craft with no humans aboard was referred to as a drone.

Sooner than you think…

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The Wizard of Oz invented the cellphone

April 7, 2014

The Wizard of Oz invented the cellphone

Who invented the cellphone?

Was it Martin Cooper in the 1970s?

Or, perhaps, was it Oscar Diggs in the 1910s?

Never heard of Oscar Diggs?

Oh, but you have…he is better known as the Wizard of Oz.

In L. Frank Baum’s 1914 eighth book in the Oz series, Tik-Tok of Oz (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), we encounter this remarkable scene (mild spoiler alert).

Ozma, the ruler of Oz, has a magic picture which enables her to see anything happening in the world (although she has to direct the picture to show her something).

Previously, one limitation was that the picture had no sound. Dorothy had to make a hand gesture at a certain time of day (which Ozma could see) in order to communicate.

At this point in the series, Oscar Diggs is essentially part of Ozma’s cabinet. He has learned some real magic, but also dabbles in technology.

The Shaggy Man is a prototypical hippie, with an easy-going philosophy, a disdain for the establishment, and a life built around love…or, a love magnet, at any rate.

Shaggy would be right at home on many tech campuses.

When some magic happens, Shaggy realizes it must be the intervention of Ozma:

“…Shaggy suspected the truth, and believing that Ozma was now taking an interest in the party he drew from his pocket a tiny instrument which he placed against his ear.

Ozma, observing this action in her Magic Picture, at once caught up a similar instrument from a table beside her and held it to her own ear. The two instruments recorded the same delicate vibrations of sound and formed a wireless telephone, an invention of the Wizard. Those separated by any distance were thus enabled to converse together with perfect ease and without any wire connection.

“Do you hear me, Shaggy Man?” asked Ozma.

“Yes, Your Highness,” he replied.”

At the end of the conversation, Ozma puts her phone down, and Shaggy “…replaced the wireless telephone in his pocket”.

So, while you may have heard in the past that the Star Trek communicator inspired the cellphone, here was a clearcut description of one the way we use them now…more than half a century earlier.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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