John Muir: Writer, Environmentalist, Gadget Junkie?

Illustration for article titled John Muir: Writer, Environmentalist, Gadget Junkie?

When John Muir's name comes up, technologically progressive inventor is not the first thing that comes to mind. But as The Atlantic points out, the author and lover of nature dreamed up a few ingenious inventions in his time.

Take this desk he invented, as described in his book The Story of My Boyhood and Youth:

Then, after the minutes allowed for dressing had elapsed, a click was heard and the first book to be studied was pushed up from a rack below the top of the desk, thrown open, and allowed to remain there the number of minutes required. Then the machinery closed the book and allowed it to drop back into its stall, the moved the rack forward and threw up the next in order, and so on, all the day being divided according to the times of recitation, and time required and allotted to each study.


So maybe he used his awesome ideas for boring endeavors (he also had a bed that would forcibly eject him at a set hour every morning). But whatever, I'd still sell a sibling to have that thing in my possession. Wouldn't you? [The Atlantic]

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This exact desk is available for public viewing at Wisconsin Historical Society, in Madison. It's on the the first floor. It is a wonder of the blending of OCD and technology. I love it.