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Molly Cule
300260.  Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:09 am Reply with quote

The story goes that the metal detector was invented by AG Bell to locate the missing bullet inside President Garfield’s body. This bumper book of fads says so too. However, Mitch has posted something on this on the ‘Scottish inventions’ thread, saying that the metal detector did not work in locating the bullet as it instead picked up the metal on the President’s bed.

 
Molly Cule
300261.  Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:11 am Reply with quote

Rubicks cube – Invented by Erno Rubik in 1974, he was a architect from Hungary. He decided to design a puzzle that would reflect nature as he saw it, complex yet simple with geometry in all things, h’apparently. He said his inspiration for the internal mechanism came from the Danube. Watching pebbles that had been smoothed and rounded by the water he designed a cylindrical internal structure to hold the cube together. He showed his design to his students who liked it. It took 3 years for the first few cubes to be made by toy-making co-operative Politechnika. Then in 1978 a waiter in Budapest sold his cube to a customer, a computer manufacturer from Vienna called Dr Tibor Laczi. Laczi decided to market and sell the cubes, it took a long time but eventually he was able to persuade the manufacturing company to trade with the West. They the company couldn’t keep up with demand so pirate cubes from the Far East accounted for half the initial swathe of sales. Rubik made a fortune and started smoking better cigarettes.

There are more than 43 trillion configurations but only one solution. The formula for solving the cube in the least possible moves is called ‘God’s algorithm’, in 2007 this was said to be 26.

There are competitions now where people solve the cubes with their eyes shut, from memory. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS0L-IIj-Sc
http://www.rubiks.com/World/Cube%20maths.aspx
Bumper book of Fads.

 
Molly Cule
300262.  Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:13 am Reply with quote

Fortune/Fads - When the National Lottery was launched in November 1994 the Sun created a full-time lottery correspondent called Lenny Lottery, the Sun persuaded him to change his name by deed poll if he really wanted the job. He was a recent graduate from Manchester University called Aidan McGurran. His brief with his new name was to make sure he didn’t miss out on any stories: winners, losers, rats, divorcees, sex addicts etc.. When the interest in the Lottery wore off Lenny left the Sun for the Mirror taking his name and his lottery suit with him – white suit with red bobbles on. The Mirror took him to court for his name and outfit and won the lawsuit.

Winning the lottery doesn’t ruin your life, like the sceptics say, more than 90% of winners are happier a year after their win than they were before.

We had national lotteries between 1566 and 1826 when the government let money raised be used for building Westminster Bridge, the British Museum and colonising Virginia. The tickets were expensive - £10 a time but were usually bought in smaller shares.

http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/homes/story/0,,2264751,00.html

 
Molly Cule
300264.  Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:15 am Reply with quote

Etch a sketch

The original Etch-A-Sketch was operated with a joystick. The invention was the brainchild of Andre Cassagnes, a French electrician tinkering in his garage. Conceived in 1950, the drawing toy made use of a joystick, glass and aluminum powder (how it works it the aluminium powder clings to the screen, the moving stylus inside removes the powder from the screen as you move it about with the knobs so the picture you create is made out of darkness in the box). He called it L'Ecran Magique, and made its debut at a European Toy Fair in 1959. American Henry Winzeler, founder and president of the Ohio Art Toy Company, licensed L'Ecran Magique and introduced it to America in 1960. There the joystick was replaced with two white knobs, the idea was to make the toy look like a television.

There is a man called Tim George, aka Mr Etch a sketch who draws American president’s portraits, animals, buildings – all sorts – on the toys. His work has been turned into an etch a sketch gallery and a calendar. He works on each work for 15 hours with tiny breaks.

The artists who use Etch a Sketch usually make them permanent by taking out the plastic backing.

 
Molly Cule
300269.  Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:26 am Reply with quote

Freedom/Fads

During WW2 the British secret service made a plan with Waddingtons to use Monopoly games to help prisoners of war escape. They were already working with Waddingtons to make silk maps, which were far more useful for spies than paper ones as they are silent and durable in all weather conditions.

In 1941 production began, the Waddingtons factory set aside a small, secure room—unknown to the rest of its employees—where skilled craftsmen sat carved niches into the games’ cardboard boxes. Along with the standard thimble, car, and Scotty dog, the POW version included additional “playing” pieces, such as a metal file, a magnetic compass, and of course, a regional silk escape map, complete with marked safe-houses along the way—all neatly concealed in the game’s box. Some of the money was real. Escape maps specific to the areas the games would be distributed – in food and clothing parcels – were hidden in each game set. Allied soldiers and pilots headed to the front lines were told to look for the special edition game if they were captured. These editions had a red dot in the corner of the Free Parking space.

We talked about Monopoly being the invention of a communist, an anti-capitalist game. Whether or not this is true, Soviet leaders tried coming up with their own Marxist-themed spin-off games designed to highlight the virtues of frugality. The title of one such knockoff from Communist-era Hungary loosely translated to “Save,” while another in Russia had a name that roughly meant “Manager.” You can see pictures of the Russian game of ‘Manager’ here http://www.muurkrant.nl/monopoly/russia.htm

 
Flash
300336.  Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:37 pm Reply with quote

Bunter also sent me this:
Quote:
We have Frisbees courtesy of the Frisbie Pie Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In the 1870s, confectioner William Russell Frisbie started a bakery that carried a range of homemade pies in circular tins branded with the family name.

In the mid-1940s throwing the pans became a favourite pastime of students at Yale University, whose New Haven campus was not far away from the Frisbie Pie Company’s headquarters.

The pastime gained momentum due to Californian Walter Frederick Morrison who was a keen UFO-logist.

In 1957, he teamed up with the Wham-O company and brought out lightweight metal toy disks called ‘Flyin’ Saucers’. In order to increase sales, Wham-O’s CEO Richard Knerr went to promote the Saucers at Yale and Harvard. He was astonished to find that they were already throwing around pie tins called ‘Frisbies’. As a result, Knerr trademarked the word ‘Frisbee’ in 1959.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Source: Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things

 
MatC
307257.  Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:18 am Reply with quote

In an Aberdeen mental hospital, in the 1940s ...

The head gardener carried on his arm a large spool, rather like the ones on which electric cable was wound, but his spool contained bogie-roll. This black tobacco, made in a heavy twist, which unwound just like cable, had first been manufactured near the River Bogie in the Northeast. The head gardener also carried with him a sharp little knife with which he cut off the daily rations of bogie which the gardener-patients chewed strenuously, every now and then spitting a rich brown liquid on the pathways.


“Monkeys, bears and gutta percha” by Colin MacLean (Tuckwell Press, 2001).

 
Bunter
309569.  Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:50 am Reply with quote

Further notes on Frisbees:

We have Frisbees courtesy of the Frisbie Pie Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In the 1870s, confectioner William Russell Frisbie started a bakery that carried a range of homemade pies in circular tins branded with the family name.

In the mid-1940s throwing the pans became a favourite pastime of students at Yale University, whose New Haven campus was not far away from the Frisbie Pie Company’s headquarters.

The pastime gained momentum due to Californian Walter Frederick Morrison who was a keen UFO-logist.

In 1957, he teamed up with the Wham-O company and brought out lightweight metal toy disks called ‘Flyin’ Saucers’. In order to increase sales, Wham-O’s CEO Richard Knerr went to promote the Saucers at Yale and Harvard. He was astonished to find that they were already throwing around pie tins called ‘Frisbies’. As a result, Knerr trademarked the word ‘Frisbee’ in 1959.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Source: Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things

 
Flash
309816.  Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:51 am Reply with quote

Posted above, J

 
eggshaped
386913.  Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:20 am Reply with quote

 
Flash
386931.  Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:56 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Offer expires August 31, 1982

Shame.

 
eggshaped
386943.  Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:16 am Reply with quote

And according to wiki:

Quote:
Pogo sticks were invented by the Russian military during World War II, as a means of escape from German Tanks during the siege of Berlin.


That invokes a pretty funny image - in fact, maybe I'll squirrel this away for the "Germans" show.

 
suze
386952.  Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:31 am Reply with quote

Check that it's true first ...

The talk page to the Wiki article refers to someone called George Hansburg as inventing the pogo stick in 1919; he seems also to have invented a legend that he based his design on something he had seen in Burma, being used by a little girl called Pogo.

This article from about.com is probably based on an earlier version of the Wiki article, and includes a drawing from a patent application granted in 1957 - the Wiki talk page suggests that he applied for one in 1919 but it wasn't granted.

That little lot could be quite hard to pin down, but it's also suggested that the Ziegfeld Follies used a pogo stick in their shows in the 1920s - that may be easier to verify.

 
Flash
386966.  Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:53 am Reply with quote

Call me an old cynic, but I find the suggestion that you could pogo away from a tank faster than you could run unconvincing.

 
eggshaped
386968.  Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:58 am Reply with quote

You're obviously not doing it right, Flash. Suze, of course, I wouldn't trust anything on wiki (or, ideally, from anywhere else) without trying to corroborate it elsewhere.

 

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