Fire Up the Horses and Let ’em Run! Early Representations of Horsepower from RG 241: Restored Patents

Horsepower!  We hear this common phrase everyday associated with everything from cars to lawn mowers to available human capital.  It's all about power and the power to get things done.  While today the term "horse power" typically refers to the power of an engine in a car or truck and is a single, compound word, … Continue reading Fire Up the Horses and Let ’em Run! Early Representations of Horsepower from RG 241: Restored Patents

Holdings Highlight! RG 167: Submissions to the National Inventors Council

Every so often, I come across items in our holdings which are so delightfully bizarre that they have to be shared.  The drawings below come from RG 167: Submissions to the Inventor's Council.  This group was founded in 1940 as part of the Department of Commerce's Office of Technical Services.  The intention was that this … Continue reading Holdings Highlight! RG 167: Submissions to the National Inventors Council

Ah, Summertime! You Have the Best Utility Patents!

Summertime seems to have been created to be three months of time to play, rest, relax, and, in general, do the things that make us happy.  In the years between 1898 and 1908, inventors were very creative in their efforts to make summertime spectacular, interesting, and somewhat bizarre!  So, whether you prefer to spend your … Continue reading Ah, Summertime! You Have the Best Utility Patents!

This Week in Universal News: Video Phone Demonstration, 1955

This week's story features a demonstration of the "often-forecast" videophone. Today, numerous devices and programs enable video calling, but the videophone as a separate appliance never quite took off. One reason why 1955 was not the year for the video phone is the price tag: According to the Universal news story, the videophone cost $5000.00, or about $43,000.00 in today's dollars. … Continue reading This Week in Universal News: Video Phone Demonstration, 1955

This Week in Universal News: A Pie-Baking Contest at the Beach, 1936

In this story from Universal News, swimsuit-clad women participate in a pie-baking contest on the beach. While there is not much more to be said about the story itself, it is a classic example of the "Bathing Beauties" that appear in the Universal newsreels throughout the 1930s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VepP0WU8j94 The original release sheet reads: Bathing Beauties … Continue reading This Week in Universal News: A Pie-Baking Contest at the Beach, 1936

This Week in Universal News: A Hovercraft Crosses the English Channel, 1959

On July 25, 1909, Louis Bleriot became the first man to fly over the English Channel. In 1959, the flight was commemorated with the first crossing by hovercraft. Taking a hovercraft between England and France was a reality for commercial passengers between 1968 and 2000, when a commercial hovercraft service offered transportation across the English Channel. … Continue reading This Week in Universal News: A Hovercraft Crosses the English Channel, 1959

This Week in Universal News: The First Parking Meter, 1935

The world's first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City on July 16th, 1935. Today, advanced parking meters allow a driver to pay by mobile phone, but the first parking meters required a nickel to operate. This story from Universal News demonstrates the novelty of the new invention. http://youtu.be/gJiMa0aKNgU From the release sheet: Town Clocks … Continue reading This Week in Universal News: The First Parking Meter, 1935

This Week in Universal News: A Homemade Submarine, 1934

What are you doing with your summer? Ever thought of building your own submarine? This week, we're featuring a homemade submarine, built by amateur inventor Byron Connett in the early 1930s. The underwater vessel was only ten feet long and 34 inches high. The inaugural voyage lasted 45 minutes and covered one mile. http://youtu.be/-yD79xSkUGE From … Continue reading This Week in Universal News: A Homemade Submarine, 1934

This Week in Universal News: An Invention to Protect Yourself from Grapefruit, 1937

This week we're featuring Professor I.M. Nuts, a gentleman who demonstrates his spectacular inventions in several Universal News stories. In this story, Prof. Nuts shows off a gadget that will prevent you from ruining your day while eating grapefruit. According to Nuts, "every home should have at least half a dozen"! http://youtu.be/djr2GckgFvI Have you ever … Continue reading This Week in Universal News: An Invention to Protect Yourself from Grapefruit, 1937