RCA Eye Witness Television - You're right there.

Citizens! It is time for you to make the switch to the new-type entertainment of tele-vision. In all the world's history has there been anything like television before!

No longer need you spend countless evening staring at the yellow glow of your radio's dial. If you step-up to tele-vision, you can peer into a tiny hole that becomes your window on the world, all in several shades of gray, with intermittent interference from weather patterns, aero-planes, or very large houseflies. Enjoy complete modern entertainment in one beautifully styled console, merely the size of a laundering-machine. Imagine the evenings your family could spend crowded around such a wonder, skull to skull, squinting for a glimpse of a discernible shape. Peer at such shapes as...
  • Man With Surly Doll
  • Tilting Suit-Man Akimbo With Pom-Poms
  • Hateful Legislative Deception Season
  • Shouting Oaf with Ball
  • Marital Horror Delight Narrative Theater
  • Different Ball-Fling
  • Impending Apocalypse Update
  • Circular Automotive Expedition of Haste
  • Wandering Gown Woman
  • Unnatural Herd-Animal Pursuit

See your RCA Victor Television Dealer for a demonstration today, and eventually, the price.

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Absorbine Jr. - Two clips arts (clips art?)!

Two pretty good clip arts now, from 1904's American Druggist magazine. "Clips of art"? "Art clips"? This ad for Absorbine Jr. wants you to know how profitable it is, so won't you advertise it in your drug store? No? Fine. Then just take what you want and go, you monster. Take your dumb clips of arts.

Apparently, lactic acid (the chemical that builds up in your muscles after heavy exercise and causes muscle soreness) was just called "fatigue acid" back in The Forty. It was a simpler time, when chemicals were named according to whether or not they were obviously bad or good. This is much as if a child had designed science. Wind would be called "hair-blow". All forms of metal would be called "klinky". Fire would be called "fun sauce".

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"Ah! There's your problem, Mr. Waitheworth. You have a compound fracture of the one by six. I recommend rubbing this goo on it. In the mean time, try favoring your other lumber for a few days."

You can use this handy picture to let your loved ones know how much you enjoy serving them, for some passive-aggressive hijinks. With a new caption, you can show them all how happy you are to pick up the kids from Foosball practice every day for a year after doing fifteen hours in the coal mine. Or you could leave a little note on the kitchen table showing how much you totally don't mind working two jobs just to support someone's superfluous shoe habit. 

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As for this guy, he's just pointing at something, I guess. "On your way out, don't forget your puddle." or "Are you going to finish that?" He'd make more sense if he had a thing to point at. Won't you help him out?

Right click save both of these guys onto your hard drive and give them both a new reason to exist. You're welcome!

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Batchelors Foods - Ambitious wife.

Food news now, fresh from 1952. This just in: peas are "savoury", even when they come in a can!

Please read the copy for this ad, and don't forget to enjoy the phrase "a man's womenfolk".

Even more scandalous is this assemblage of words that don't make sense when placed next to each other: "tender, delicious peas". You can be a fan of peas (but I won't join you), but not of canned peas. All my life, I had never been able to choke the things down. Little, olive-colored bags of mush that popped in your mouth when you bit them, like stinky pimples, they were. Then, one day I tried frozen peas. The color was more green and less brown. They didn't smell like feet. Also, they tasted kind of like a plant, instead of a refinery. "Holy smokes! These are much less repulsive!" I gasped. When you stick a vegetable in a can, it turns into a mummy version of itself. Brown, shriveled, and preserved in a permanent state of being eight percent rotten.

It's possible that, so soon after the deprivations of World War 2, the English were glad to have food at all. But think about it this way. What did we fight a war for, if not to be free of the cruelty of canned peas?

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The Wonder City of the Future You Definitely Didn't Live to See

We love futurists, here at GO! Tower. Somebody has to figure out how we'll do everything in the future. Futurists usually look like naive goofs, but if you don't at least make some attempt to plan how to make things work, you wind up living in a city that's not so much structured as it is congealed. A city could theothetically look like a perfectly balanced model of efficiency if the whole thing were designed by one person at one time, but this is almost never the reality. Usually, cities wind up as ad-hoc jumbles, designed by hundreds of committees working independently, at different times over decades. Poor Harvey W. Corbett.

Good news! Predictions of future past don't have to be accurate to have value. When they miss the mark, they can range from fascinating to hilarious. That's how you make lemonade out of disappointing lemons. Here's a two page feature from a 1925 issue of Popular Science Monthly on the ideas Harvey Corbett and his ideas for the future city of 1950. Lemonade up, you! It's not so much hilarious as it is interesting. Corbett was a pretty successful architect, and his ideas were not insane in the membrane, just very optimistic. But that's what we want when we're shopping for futurists, isn't it? Optimism. Okay, sometimes I like a futurist to be completely out of their mind. That's not Harvey. Maybe next time?

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Popular Science Monthly. May, 1927. - Cover art Graphic Gift!

Lately we've been posting some great stuff from this old issue of Popular Science Monthly. Today, please enjoy the beautiful cover art, which I have half a mind to get printed as a poster. Conveniently, it scales perfectly to 18x24, one of the three sizes Vistaprint will do up for you.

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 It would look even more impressive at 24x36, , which is the biggest size Vistaprint can make, but the numbers come up less perfect for our PopSciMo cover (24 wide by 32 high). I guess you could add some more of that black background around the edge to fill in extra space to get to a nice round number without too much trouble.

The Phil Are GO! Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Brigade did some light restoration to the artwork. We did some color adjustment, without crushing the light colors to white, of course. There's some mild saturation enhancement, too. But the worst was the giant "5¢" penciled in on the cover. Thank you, rummage sale curator from decades past, for not giving a shit about ancient ephemera. Also, somebody blew their nose on the guy's left arm, which we valiantly tried to remove, with some dot pattern borrowed from other places on his person. Everything we did we an attempt to sweeten in a tiny bit without ruining the oldness of it.

I posted it at 3000 pixels high, but Blogger has some size limit about images. Let's see what size it downloads at. UPDATE: It looks like Blogger auto-sizes large images to 1600 px in the longest dimension. Boooooo!

Here's the original version, unfiltered, for your sanitation.

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Nicholson Files - A window into the future and past.

More interestingness from 1927 again, you bastards! Here's what they thought an airliner would look like.

Nicholson files are very much still in business. I have some in my shop, inherited from my dad. They're the best, pretty much. In this ad, Nicholson wants you to know that filing stuff won't be obsolete in The Future.

Yes, things will always need to be made smoother than they were before, and in whatever crazy future-world we wind up living in, Nicholson will be there to help you ensmoothen things. Shew. I was worried. "What of my jagged future-pieces, Nicholson?" I would shout. "Will you be there to help me de-burr, shape, and smoothen various objects in some unimaginable dystopian future when airships have umbrellas on them?" I would finish shouting.

Yes, the Nicholson File Co. of 1927 wanted us to be reassured of their continued file manufacture. And, to help you imagine such a crazy, smooth future, they've included a crystal ball vision of transatlantic flight. See?

Don't laugh too hard. if someone sat you down with some papyrus and a stick of charcoal and asked you to draw a teleportation device, you'd probably start with a phone booth and add some cones with rings around them. It would look about as goofy as this bird-fish-umbrella-mobile. A transatlantic flight HAD been successful as early as 1919, but the idea of commercial flights across the pond were still the stuff of dreams in '27. So, can we forgive the Nicholson File Co. for the goofiness of their silly drawing while simultaneously laughing at it? You bet.

Funny thing about files. I have one (possibly a Nicholson) that says "bastard" on it. So why's that? I had always suspected that it was related to the fact that there was a type of sword that was called a "bastard sword". I figured that files and swords are kind of similar. Maybe it was something to do with forging?

Wrong. The word "bastard" on it's own can mean "of abnormal or irregular size" (definition 7 in the link). This is how it came to mean "a child of irregular parentage". Back to files now. There are generally three grades of file coarseness. I say "generally" because you can geek out all day on files, but we're talking in generalities here. The three types are coarse, fine and an in-between one called a "bastard" cut. Here, "bastard" is used to describe the not-quite-rough-and-not-quite-smooth cut of the file. See?

As far as swords go, the usage is kind of similar. Swords are either long swords (like a knight would use - about 4 feet long) short swords (like a roman soldier would carry - about two feet long) and a neither-of-those lengths length, dun dun dunnnnnnn!... a "bastard sword". It just means "irregular" or "not like the others", or "not your typical length". It has nothing to do with what you shout at guys right before you hit them with it. There will be plenty of shouting and lots of swears in any sword battle, regardless of how long your sword is. Eventually, the term "bastard sword" came to be used for swords that were frikkin huge - like five feet long and twenty-five-ish pounds. Any guy running at you with one of those probably knows how you feel about him already. So, swearing was optional.

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Trifles That Count in Radio

 Time for some hobby news from 1927, courtesy of Popular Science Monthly. Since computers weren't very good in '27, your average home nerdist was probably into radio. This article was meant to help you iron out the bugs in your "radio receiving equipment". Radios were complex, new(ish) and fiddly. You either had to have a hobbyist living in your house or a solid relationship with a local radio repair guy.

Of course, as far as in-home entertainment went, radio was The Shit. TV wasn't real yet and movies were only in movie theaters. So, you had better maintain your radio's various compnents and systems, like the lightning arrestor, condensor, A-batteries, B-batteries, and of course tubes. Radios had such tubes! They'd burn out after a couple thousand hours, and depending on how big your radio was, there could be quite a few tubes in there. You had to figure out which one was the problem (with a tube tester, of course), and take the tube down to the radio dealer (yes, those existed), and get an exact replacement.

It seems that, in 1927, radio was like the PC hobby is (or was?). If you were Into Computers, you'd choose your components carefully and snap them together in the coolest case you could find. This used to be a much more common hobby in The Nineties. There are still those who like to "roll their own" computer, but more and more people are just as likely to buy a complete machine and plug it in. And that's if they even bother with a computer at all. Most common computing stuff can be done on a tablet or smartyphone.

So what will be the geeky hobby in the future that we will shake our heads at? 3D printing springs to mind as a possibility. Right now, it's an expensive, complicated dalliance for the technically savvy. Someday, when everyone has a reliable, maintenance-free thing-o-mat on their desk, ready to print out a replacement part for your coffee maker or a new battery cover for their TV remote, will we laugh to think that, at one time, only the geekiest of the geeks were into 3D printing (or just "regular printing" as it will come to be known)? We'll see.

Anyway, let's marvel at the trouble people went through just to listen to some radio. But first: What may people have been tuning into, back in 1927? We didn't have any Gaga or Katy Perry fill our heads with their emptiness. What could they possibly have been listening to in '27?

  • First coast-to-coast Rose Bowl Game broadcast.
  • First opera (Faust) on a national radio network.
  • First broadcast from Poland.
  • Debut of NBC's "Blue Network".
  • Debut of the Columbia Broadcast System.
  • First Religious broadcast (in France).
  • Canada's Diamond Jubilee celebration, the first nationwide Canadian broadcast.
  • The formation of the FCC, which used to try to do good things, believe it or not.
Click on each page for an embiggened version, natch.


Science News - Your news... scienced!

U.S. Border Can Agent discovers contraband "small can" hidden inside perfectly legal "large can".

Portable Two-Way Radio Weighs Five Pounds. Can be Worn
By Two Men, Hidden Underneath Ordinary "Fashion Tarpaulin"
or Professional Sports Team Mascot Uniform.
Researchers finally discover use for coal, salt.


Bar One Cigarettes - The cake-eating-and-having of televisions.

Financial advice now, from your friends at J. Wix and Sons, Ltd, makers of Bar One cigarettes! Learn about affording stuff the only educational way - with a comic strip!

See? You can afford anything if you switch to a cheaper cigarette, and buy it with the savings. Here's a link to help us understand British money in 1952. If the price difference is too small, like, say, "10/-" (which means "10 shillings"). A shilling was 1/20 of a pound. So, Bar One cigarettes save Jim and Margaret half a pound per week. If, for some reason, that wasn't enough to buy a TV, then they simply weren't smoking enough! Smoke more to save more! Got it.

Anyway, here's Jim looking happy. Of course he's happy. He's smoking a Bar One! He's also happy because he has a transparent background. Why not print him out, roll him up, and smoke him? That's how you save REAL money on cigarettes! You're welcome!

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Esso - Beneath the blue suburban skies.

When's the last time a gasoline ad was even vaguely enjoyable, or at least didn't make you hate the executives that paid for it? You can say 1952 if you like. This Esso ad from Britain's Picture Post is more pleasant than it needs to be.

Seemingly the entire cast of Penny Lane (not really, but you know) is running for Esso gasoline, lubricants and road maps, whether or not they have a car. There's the, uuh, boy smashing pots. There's Shakespeare and Bacon getting their names mixed up for some reason. There's a bunch of kings bowing to each other. And there's a fox hunt chasing Lady Godiva. Why? Doesn't matter.

Who's "Sillince"? It wasn't easy for the research and Googling team to find out, but it looks like William Augustus Sillince was an English cartoonist and illustrator of some note, working mostly in the Fifties and Sixties. He drew for Punch magazine (along with Gerald Scarfe! Hm!) as well as the advertising industry, which brings us to this Esso ad. What's an "Esso", you say? It's a British petroleum company. Nuff said.

If you can figure out the jokes in these political cartoons, you're a better man than me. Or, you were alive in mid-century England. Best of luck!

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1950 Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide - Quietly Purring.

Harley-Davidson ads from The Fifties. Come for the clothes. Stay for the irony.

Check out the bike togs on this happy, friendly Harley couple. Captain & Tenille hat. Shirt and tie. Wingy thingy on thechest. Jodhpurs. Whatpurrs? Jodhpurs. Those are those funny pants that the horsey set used to wear. They're usually  beige, with skinny ankles and giant balloon hips for some unknown reason. Apparently you needed those to ride a Harley.
Jodhpurs. A fun game:
ask anyone wearing them if
they know why they're
wearing them.
It's ironic that the idealized Harley togs looks so much like a Nazi uniform. This is not to say that Harley people are Nazis, okay? That's why I said it's ironic. You'd think that the Stalag 13 getup would have left a bad taste in the mouth of post-WWII Americans, that's all.

And now, some irony, courtesy of today's ad.

"...cruising down a scenic country road with a Harley-Davidson purring quietly underneath you." I can't remember the last time I saw a Harley that I would describe as "quiet". This makes me wonder if, for some reason, hog riders are given a free pass on the noise legislation. I was once pulled over in my VW GTI with a Magnaflow exhaust (which I hated and wanted to revert to stock). The officer had tailed me for a block or two, obviously wanting me to break the speed limit of 30 mph, but that ain't me, man. So, he pulled me over anyway to hassle me about my fifty-state-legal exhaust. When I explained what brand of exhaust it was, and how much the noise annoyed me, he told me he had a Mustang with the same setup. I'll let the irony sink in there. He had a V8 with the same noisemaker he had just pulled me over for having on my V6. He didn't give me a ticket, but he was probably just annoyed that I wouldn't speed for him. Anyway, most Harleys are twice as loud as my car used to be. Do they ever get pulled over for that? I have a feeling they don't, because "murr-cuh".

"In no other sport are friends so loyal, gals so glamorous." I'm not sure you can call cruising around on a hog a "sport". If you can be a chain-smoking old guy with a huge beer gut AND be good at something, then that something doesn't get to call itself a "sport".

But, when I'm looking for a fancy glamorous lady to take to the SAG/AFTRA awards, I go looking for a Harley woman. That's just science, people.

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1971 Toyotas - Before the beige.

Back in 1971, when Toyota was trying to get a foothold in the American market, they kind of tried to emulate the look of familiar American car styling - all the better to to tempt a customer wary of Japanese cars. Now, looking at them here in The Future, they look like chibi versions of classic Detroit iron. I want one of these more than almost any current Toyota (almost). Toyotas became so ubiquitous in later decades that car people started describing the entire brand as "beige", meaning "dull and generic". When the whole "unintended acceleration" thing was going on , Jalopnik subtitled the story "beige bites back". This ad is from the time when Toyota could only dream of being the "boring old everycar".

The Celica became a popular sport compact among the backwards-hat set, especially the all-wheel-drive version. All wheel drive is better when you have more wheels in you "all". It could probably benefit from another axle. Let me get that for you. P.A.G! Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Brigade, assemble!!!! BAM!

Pattern brush! SFOOSH! Lasso tool! PRING! Duplicate layer! BWANNG! Scale object! FRISH! Edit mask! BLONK! File/save as! DING! Good work, team!

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Expo '67 - The future was then!

Breaking news now, from Expo '67! Everything will look cool in the future! No it didn't. The actual future seldom lives up to the giddy optimism of the World's Fair. Ah well. We'll always have these pictures from the April 28th, 1967 issue of LIFE magazine.

The Australian pavilion. Nope. Those picto-trumpets aren't video screens. They're just backlit photos. Expensive and elaborate? Check. Cool looking? Super check. Loud? Not check.

The Cuban pavilion, which came in a flat box and was assembled with a 5mm hex wrench (included) in about three hours.

The Jenga Japan pavilion.

La Ronde, a futuregasmic amusement park just inside the gates of the expo.