These Headphones From 1927 Look So Much Worse Than Earbuds

Throughout the 20th century, radio nerds were trying to figure out how to build the perfect headphones. Over-the-ear varieties could get hot and sweaty. In-ear varieties would fall out. And then there were these clamp-ons from 1927, which looked like the least comfortable of the bunch — despite what the manufacturers… » 2/17/15 12:21pm 2/17/15 12:21pm

This Engineer Turned Radiowaves Into Fashion During the 1930s

For today's edition of There's Nothing New Under The Sun™, we have a radio engineer who experimented with creating high-tech fashion that would be right at home amongst the 21st century's glitch art and wifi visualizations. Except that these patterns were made in 1938. » 2/02/15 4:13pm 2/02/15 4:13pm

Wearable Tech In 1922 Was a Radio Inside Your Top Hat

Many people are convinced that wearable tech will revolutionize our relationship with technology in the coming decades. But we've been waiting on this revolution in some form or another for a century. Case in point: This kid who had it all figured out in 1922 when he invented a radio that fit inside his top hat. » 1/27/15 1:50pm 1/27/15 1:50pm

1922: Radio Will Kill the Newspaper Star

Each generation seems to think that it's the first to imagine radical change in the newspaper industry. The predictions of futuristic robot editors? They date back to at least 1968. Tablet news? At least 1994. Printing the news by radio right in your home? 1934. » 9/23/14 3:49pm 9/23/14 3:49pm

The 1930s Refrigerator-Radio Combo That Never Quite Took Off

By the late 1930s the vast majority of American households had a radio. So how were radio manufacturers supposed to expand their market? By insisting that the ideal American home has a radio in every room . Sometimes that meant putting radios in the latest appliances — like right inside every American's favorite… » 9/22/14 3:14pm 9/22/14 3:14pm

Tech Nerds Freaked Out About Obsolescence 100 Years Ago Too

Do you find yourself obsessing over the latest tech? Does owning the newest model smartphone or tablet feel like a need more than a desire? Well, as you can see in this comic strip from 1919, your anxiety about having the Latest New Thing is actually nothing new. In fact, you're continuing a long tradition of nerds… » 9/17/14 12:11pm 9/17/14 12:11pm

How One 1920s Feminist Imagined Our Futuristic High-Tech World

Josephine Daskam Bacon was an author known for her adventure serials that featured female protagonists. But in 1929, she took a break from her regular fiction writing and slipped on her futurist goggles for an article in Century magazine titled "In Nineteen Seventy-Nine." Bacon imagined just how much progress women… » 8/12/14 5:16pm 8/12/14 5:16pm

The 1920s Tabloid Reporter Who Predicted TV Could Kill Newspapers

"What for example could be staler than to-morrow morning's newspaper account of a prize-fight or political convention one has already received over the radio?" wrote one commentator in 1928. Radio was overtaking print as the news medium of the day and some people insisted that newspapers were going to disappear… » 8/04/14 4:06pm 8/04/14 4:06pm

When Radio In Every Room Was the Dream of the Future

In 1939 Radio-Craft magazine wrote a series of articles promising that they would build a home of the future in Teaneck, New Jersey. What fantastical, futuristic technology would they show off? Robot servants, newspapers printed by radiowaves, and glowing walls? Sadly, no. The tech of tomorrow in this house was… » 6/19/14 4:21pm 6/19/14 4:21pm

This Weird Household Machine Was the Future of Voting in 1945

Some day a President of the United States may be elected "electronically." This sentence wouldn't look out of place in any news story from 2014, despite quotes around the word "electronically." But believe it or not, that prediction comes from a magazine article in 1945. » 6/10/14 3:42pm 6/10/14 3:42pm

Subscription Radio of the 1940s Was the Scrambled Porn of Its Day

We often think of subscription radio in the U.S. as a fairly new idea. But back in the 1940s, one company was trying to make ad-free subscription radio a reality. How would they make sure people paid? By protecting their broadcast from freeloaders with shrieking cat noises. » 5/07/14 2:55pm 5/07/14 2:55pm

America's First 'Wireless Newspaper' Killed Catalina's Carrier Pigeons

If you lived on the small Southern California island of Catalina at the turn of the century, news was hard to come by. The island had a rather unreliable carrier pigeon system and copies of the L.A. Times wouldn't arrive by boat until around 1:30 in the afternoon. News was slow moving. But all that changed on March… » 3/03/14 6:00pm 3/03/14 6:00pm

This Was the TV of the Future in 1933

Television was hardly a reliable broadcast medium in the early 1930s. But that didn't stop companies from speculating about TV designs of the future. Like this Marconi-brand "radio set of 1960." » 12/13/13 4:36pm 12/13/13 4:36pm

Did the 'War of the Worlds' Radio Broadcast Really Cause Mass Panic?

Tonight, PBS airs a documentary about Orson Welles' infamous 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast and the resulting hysteria that swept America. The only problem? Many scholars contend that the program didn't actually cause mass panic at all. » 10/29/13 2:00pm 10/29/13 2:00pm

The First In-Flight Movies Had a Live Orchestra

Soaring through the clouds in 1925, passengers on an Imperial Airways flight traveling over Germany were treated to a brand new novelty—one of the first in-flight movies. Even more astounding? The film had live orchestral accompaniment. But not in the way you're probably thinking. » 9/19/13 1:55pm 9/19/13 1:55pm

The First Radio Nerds Were A Bunch of Trolls

Today, there's a lot of scaremongering in the media surrounding online trolling. When people are being terrible to each other, there's often this knee-jerk reaction to blame the technology rather than acknowledge that human beings have always been just plain horrible. Case in point: the radio trolls of 1910. » 9/16/13 6:00pm 9/16/13 6:00pm

Hello Frisco! A 1924 Map of The First Coast-to-Coast Radio Broadcast

America got a little bit smaller on the night of February 8, 1924. Or at least it felt that way. From a banquet hall at the Congress Hotel in Chicago one man could be heard simultaneously in New York, Jacksonville, Denver, San Francisco, and even Havana, Cuba (which was no longer technically controlled by the U.S.… » 8/26/13 2:21pm 8/26/13 2:21pm