Walkie-Talkie Etymology

Although the origin of the word ‘walkie-talkie’ seems straightforward enough, there’s still much debate amongst etymologists. According to one source (the one you’re currently reading) the story goes as follows. It all began in the 1890s, with the first moving pictures. At the time, these were called walkies, as most early films involved people or animals walking. People required little …

Ze Germans Are Back

In the early 1980s pocket calculators were a technological novelty, but the golden age of Technological Novelty Mania hadn’t started yet. That would soon change, however, when German electronic band Kraftwerk released their album Computer World, featuring the song Pocket Calculator, in 1981. (The original version can be heard here, their own remix from 1991 here and –the best!- a …

Read My Slides: Books Are Dead

The Romanslide was a so-called slide-reader: an e-reader avant la lettre, from the pre-digital era. In the 1950s it was considered the pinnacle of modern technology and early adopters were quite keen on burning their paper books and replacing them with slides. These could be projected on any wall or a white screen –not included. A single slide was about …

The Golden Age of Drilling

In 1960, when the Black & Decker Company celebrated its 50th birthday, some executive -whose name has been stricken from all records because of the catastrophe that would ultimately follow his seemingly brilliant plan- thought it would be a good idea to commemorate the occasion with a golden drill. The financial department had some serious doubts concerning the feasibility of …

Fat Boys Unite

Just like me, the Agfa Clack is lovely and chubby. Also a bit like me, it’s a camera, a device recording the world around it without taking part in most of its activities. There’s also a few obvious differences. Its focus is better than mine, it’s from Germany and it was born in 1954, fifteen years before me. The Clack …

Philips Magic Lamp

The Philips PDF-040 Mood Lamp was a brilliant invention from the early Seventies, combining a mood ring, a lava lamp and a dash of magic science to form a bipolar light fixture that had the power to swing any mood. Feeling down? Switch on the white light to brighten your day. Getting a bit hyper and manic? Dampen the mood …