Back Yard Air Bubble, 1961

Only $50! Scanned and uploaded to X-Ray Delta One's photostream, and shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. View larger sizes here.



  1. I think the artist maybe didn’t get the concept.  There would be no way to heat that thing, so Mom is in for some serious frostbite.  But it would be awesome in the rain.

    1. You do understand greenhouse, right?  A very small amount of warming in the air blower (see bottom right of the image), and the solar heating of the air in the bubble would keep it plenty warm.

        1. Nope, unlike a tent it would be impermeable to air, so while you lose some warmth on the boundary where the cold plastic touches the warm inner air, the majority of the thermal energy would remain inside. In theory you’d asphyxiate but usually with such contraptions you have to blow air in to keep it inflated. While also in theory blowing cold air in would make it pretty cold inside as well, that is why the air is heated while being blown in. You could make it double-walled, but you’d not gain that much since the air-exchange (warm air in) would vastly outclass any percentage gain from preventing a slightly faster heat exchange on the boundary.

          The sketch however has some serious flaw in that it seems to put an internal combustion engine inside the tent sucking air in. Which would quickly end with a bad case of carbon-monoxide poisoning. Usually the inflating apparatus for such things is located outside, with a generous tube leading away from the vincinity of the exhaust gas outlet so you don’t end up sucking in the carbon-monoxide and tar.

          1. That is clearly an electric motor attached to a blower with presumably a resistive heater coil on it, so CO is not an issue, although the power bill will be.

            Inflatable tents like this are in use today.  My local community center puts one over the tennis courts during the winter for instance, although it is white instead of clear.  You don’t have to worry about asphyxiation either because air is constantly circulated through the tent from the blower to small vents near the floor on the sides. 

            Hmm, according to the magazine you could do this for $50 in 1961, that’s about $370 today, well within the realm of reason if someone wanted to give it a go.

    2. These people are from Minnesota and this is where they go to warm up after a long day ice fishing. 

    3. I haven’t yet read the Pop-Sci article, but lamp-post-like structure in the middle looks like an infra-red heater. I don’t see a propane tank, I assume it is electric. I have used propane versions that look like this one and they are surprisingly effective and efficient. An example — a friend has an outdoor hot tub and entertainment area. It’s on a say….20 by 20 deck. He has a couple of these things strategically placed, but usually only one is going (I’m in Oregon.) 

      You can be more or less naked under, or in the general area of the heater and feel nice and warm, even in below freezing weather. The neat thing is that your breath still is visible vapour because of the cold. The infrared heat warms the skin and other stuff, but the air is not heated – it’s still cold air. I’ve had similar experience with the indoor electric units. 

      Attached are three pics…the two outdoor heaters are propane, the small parabolic heater with the cat is electric. The electric is great, but if you need a completely, or even a kinda dark room to sleep, you might wish to use something else. 

      I just looked at the pic again and I see two light bulbs in the thing, looks like a big lamp. Of course, if the bulbs in the pic were infrared, they might just work if the climate is not too extreme.

  2. First thing that struck me was to be curious about this “great speedometer fraud” that was apparently going on.  Turns out they really meant great odometer fraud, and was just about turning back the mileage.

    Fun fact:  This issue looks to be available freely on Google Books:

    1. That one caught my eye as well. It was fixed 10 years later with a little one-way clutch in the gear train.

    2. Thanks for the boffo link Rev..

      Also, anyone know of a way to download that book as a PDF or somesuch?

      1. Thanks for the link. 

        The ‘Orgasmatron’ option offered on the French site intrigues me – I wish they provided more information on it. I wonder if it’s like the one in the movie? I wonder if they will at some point offer the Orgasmic Orb. 

        Anyway, cool concept if it’s not some glorified mechanical vibrator or fleshlight. If it’s anything like the orgone accumulator – forget it! Orgones are poppycock and any device claiming to accumulate them is complete quackery! 

    1.  It keeps the whole thing from collapsing and smothering everyone inside the first time someone opens the door.




  4. It took me a second or two to notice the snow.  At first glance, I thought, “Man, it’s gotta be hotter than Satan’s asscrack in there!”

     – Native Southern Californian who “enjoyed” 105 degrees F on the first of October.

    1. I ‘enjoyed’ 111° on 10/1. Who do you have to fuck to get some fall weather around here?

      1. It was in the high 70’s on Tuesday; today it was in the mid-30’s and snowing lightly.  From shorts and t-shirts, to heavy coats and gloves in five days.  On Sunday it will be back in the 60’s.  This is typical of fall in Colorado.  Is this what you had in mind?

        1. Anything under 90° would be welcome.  We’ve been running much hotter than normal.

  5. I just really looked at the scene.  It’s an episode of Antiques Roadshow starring Colonel Sanders, Daisy Duke and the Bobbsey Twins.

  6. Where are the coats?  Oh sure, the guy, who is already wearing long sleeves and pants has a coat and boots.  But what about all the other, barely-clad family members?  Are they really expected to shovel their way to the thin plastic bubble wearing shorts?

    And speaking of thin plastic, I have a pretty good idea what would happen to that bubble material in very cold weather.

  7. 1961 was before the clean act was passed to reverse the trend of unregulated air pollution causing an alarming number of persons dying from smog.

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