An ad found in Astounding Science Fiction, December 1956:  “HOW IS YOUR ROBOT SUPPLY HOLDING OUT?”   Is last year’s model broken, or have they all just wandered off?  I suppose there’s also subtext as to whether your robots have revolted and killed all their masters, or…well, I suppose that’s where all roads lead anyhow.

It’s offering a ‘turtle’, a light-sensing robot with ‘hungry’ and ‘avoid’ states called the Machina Speculatrix, which was actually a significant leap in technology: remember, this is the mid-1950s, experimental robotics wasn’t something they taught in an afterschool program using Legos, Radio Shack was still focusing on radios, and the original plans are vacuum-tube based.  The ad was from Oliver Garfield Company, whose biggest contribution was the Geniac calculators, and also offered basic instruction in ‘hyperspeed reading’, modelling a nerve cell in electronics, and digital and analog computers.

The instructions for the Machina Speculatrix were $5, which is a pretty hefty amount — $50 in today’s dollars — and buying the unassembled kit would set you back a cool grand in 2019 money.  But, really, isn’t a few weeks’ salary a small price to pay for cutting edge robotics technology?

This Is Spinal Tape

This is Spinal Tap, a mock rockumentary. But This Is Spinal Tape, packing tape with real backbone. …Well, it’s illustrated with spinal cord, anyway. According to the reviews, it’s more decorative than structurally sound for packing up boxes.

this is spinal tape

You Know, For Kids!

From the Grand Forks (ND) Evening Times, December 15th, 1911, a great idea for under the Christmas tree!


Accurate .22 rifles — take your pick from Stevens, Winchester, Remington, and Savage brands!

Granted, in 1911 in North Dakota a rifle was a practical tool for farm work — it wasn’t a toy, it was something necessary to getting things done, from shooting pigeons in the barn to hunting dinner…and what kid is going to start taking pot shots at the neighbors?  Well, maybe guns aren’t the best thing to give a kid…but sometimes the kid isn’t the one who shouldn’t be messing around with a gun.  And yet nobody let Ralphie have a BB gun.

High-Fyin’ Airplane Hat

An original vintage photograph featuring Inez Courtney in a surprisingly cool machine age “airplane hat”, circa 1930.

Typewritten press snipe on verso reads “INEZ COURTNEY? featured in First National’s Loose Ankles and Spring is here does right by her art and poses in an airplane hat. And do you still wonder if the movie actresses earn their money?” Measures 8″ x 10″ and stamped on verso with Culver Pictures archive information.

Via Grapefruitmoongallery.

Inez Courtney in airplane hat

culver pictures promo photo

To The Moon, Pflug!

Instructions for making a rocket which “works on the same principal as NASA’s” out of a paper bag and a balloon. Another scan from 1968’s Funny Bags book, this time I know why I like it.

How We Travel(ed)

More pages with photos from How We Travel, by James Franklin Chamberlain, an antique school reader. Shown here are a Belgian milk-cart, pulled by a dog, and a “peculiar vehicle” called the jaunting car, from Ireland, pulled by a horse.