tech e blog

Teddy Roosevelt Plane

Theodore Roosevelt became the first US President to fly in an airplane, on October 11, 1910. It all started when he visited an aviation field in Kinloch, MO, a year and a half after he left office. There was a pilot there named Alex Hoxsey who had just descended from a flight and soon was introduced to the former president. "Colonel," Hoxsey said, " I'd like to have you for a passenger." The president wanted no time replying, "Thanks," before proceeding to climb into the plane.

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Automated Store

Before these unusual vending machines, there was Keedoozle. It's basically a vending machine-style supermarket from 1948 that was founded by Clarence Saunders. This store was ahead of its time and proposed to be the world's first self-serving store. Unfortunately, the logistics of such a process were not ironed out, as selecting an item required shoppers to have keys. Electric circuits caused perforations to be cut in a ticker tape attached to the face of the customer's key. The customer then took the punched out tape to the cashier for processing. The cashier would insert the tape into a reading mechanism that would electronically read it. That set off electrical and electronic circuits which started the goods sliding down conveyor belts and did the cost tallying in the process. Continue reading for more pictures and information.

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Past Technology

If someone asked us what we think the year 2100 is going to be like, it'd probably be filled with holodecks, flying cars, and other crazy things. Between the years of 1899 and 1900, Hildebrands - a German chocolate company - created a series of postcards called "Life in the Year 2000." As you can see, these postcards showed all kinds of crazy concepts about what people thought the year 2000 was going to be like. Continue reading to see them all.

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Apple IIc

The Apple IIc, the fourth model in the Apple II series of personal computers, is Apple Computer's first endeavor to produce a portable computer. The result was a 7.5 lb (3.4 kg) notebook-sized version of the Apple II that could be transported from place to place. The c in the name stood for compact, referring to the fact it was essentially a complete Apple II computer setup (minus display and power supply) squeezed into a small notebook-sized housing. Now, we have the ultra slim MacBook Air. Continue reading for more.

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First Flying Hoverboard

The Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee (above) was basically a unique direct-lift rotor aircraft, using contra-rotating ducted fans for lift inside a platform upon which the single pilot shifted body weight for directional control. The platform, touted as the world's first flying hoverboard, was developed starting in 1953 under an Office of Naval Research (ONR) contract to Hiller Aircraft Corporation, and flew successfully, starting in 1955. Due to aerodynamic effects in the duct within which the propellers rotated, the platform was dynamically stable, even though the pilot and center of gravity of the platform were fairly high up. In testing, the prototypes flew well, but the U.S. Army judged them to be impractical as combat vehicles as they were small, limited in speed and only barely flew out of the ground cushion effect. Continue reading for more.

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King Fredere

This antique cabinet is over 200 years old and was handcrafted ing Abraham (1711-1793) and David Roentgen's (1743-1807) workshop. This writing cabinet is crowned with a chiming clock and features finely designed marquetry panels as well as elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. It was owned by King Frederick William II and best known for its ornate decoration, mechanical complexity, and sheer size. Continue reading for video showing exactly how this exquisite marvel works.

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Orbitz Drink

Orbitz, the lava lamp-inspired food creation, was a noncarbonated fruit-flavored beverage, made by the company Clearly Canadian Beverage Corporation, that had small edible balls floating in it. It was introduced around 1997 and quickly disappeared due to poor sales. The small balls floated due to their nearly equal density to the surrounding liquid, and remained suspended with assistance from an ingredient known as gellan gum. The gellan gum provided a support matrix - something like a microscopic spider web - and had a visual clarity approaching that of water, which increased with the addition of sugar. Continue reading for more.

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Lyndon B. Johnson Car

President Lyndon B. Johnson was known as an owner of an Amphicar. Johnson, a known practical joker, was said to enjoy frightening visitors at his Johnson City, Texas ranch by driving them downhill in his Amphicar, directly into his property's lake, all the while shouting that he had malfunctioning brakes. The Amphicar Model 770 was the first such vehicle mass-produced for sale to the public starting in 1961, designed to be marketed and sold in the US. Continue reading for more fascinating historical facts.

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Russian Spy Gadgets

The KGB's main functions were foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, operative-investigatory activities, guarding the State Border of the USSR, guarding the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government, organization and ensuring of government communications as well as combating nationalism, dissent, and anti-Soviet activities. Here are some of the gadgets and weapons they used during the Cold War. Continue reading to see more.

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Play-Doh

The non-toxic, non-staining, reusable modeling compound that came to be known as "Play-Doh" was originally a pliable, putty-like substance concocted by Noah McVicker of Cincinnati-based soap manufacturer Kutol Products; it was devised at the request of Krogers Grocery, which wanted a product that could clean coal residue from wallpaper. Following World War II, with the transition from coal-based home heating to natural gas and the resulting decrease in internal soot, and the introduction of washable vinyl-based wallpaper, the market for wallpaper cleaning putty decreased substantially. McVicker's nephew, Joe McVicker, joined Kutol with the remit to save the company from bankruptcy; he subsequently discovered that the wallpaper cleaner was being used by nursery school children to make Christmas ornaments. Continue reading for more accidental inventions that you might not have known about.

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