100 useful tips from a bygone era

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The Gallaher How to Do Its were a set of British 100 cigarette cards, each depicting and describing a 19th (?) century life-hack (the collection is undated). Read the rest

What happened to all the Star Trek hair? Shatner didn't take all of it home, did he?

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A 1968 memo from Paramount producer Robert Justman to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry reports on the sad state of the show's hairpieces, which had gone missing in great number. Read the rest

Gallery of the Soviet Union's most desirable personal computers

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Starting with the Agat, a 1984 Apple ][+ clone, moving through several other mass-market and semi-mass-market models, including the gorgeously named Robotron, which was mostly produced in the GDR, and the hobbyist Radio-86RK (an 8-bit computer you assembled yourself, a bit like the Altair) and my favorite, the Apogei BK-01 which was as orange as a very, very orange thing. Read the rest

Future Forms: beautifully curated collection of space-age electronics

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Mark of Future Forms takes gorgeous photos of his collection of "space-age" electronics from the 1960s to the 1980s, many of which are for sale or rental. You can search by color, brand, or category. I got lost and then found again in "novelty" and then disappeared altogether into "orange." Read the rest

Typewriter portraiture, the strange story of 1920s ASCII art

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In 1919, a 16-year old LA Times office boy named Kenneth Taylor was given a back-page spread to show off his typewriter portraits of film stars; Taylor's work then spread to Photoplay, and a new medium was born. Read the rest

Gorgeous book of paper airplanes collected by anthropologist Harry Smith

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h Brian writes, "Avant-garde film maker and producer of the highly influential Anthology of American Folk Music series Harry Smith was also an avid collector of folk art. This book compiles some 251 paper airplanes Smith collected from off the streets of New York City, along with the date and location at which they were recovered. It's a really beautiful collection." Read the rest

Taxonomy of the 37 basic silent-film plots

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It's a lovely piece of narrative theory from Wycliff Aber Hill's 1919 book Ten Million Photoplay Plots: The Master Key to All Dramatic Plots, part of a tradition of stage-play manuals that presented related taxonomies for aspiring writers. Read the rest

A beautiful data-driven Tube ad from 1928

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This 1928 London Underground ad is a beautiful and witty example of using data to help people get the best use out of public services. By listing the tube's load at different times of the day, LU helped riders figure out how to avoid crushes, and by making the descriptions funny and insightful, the poster's creators created memorable hooks for putting the info in context. Read the rest

Kickstarting new cases for old Amigas

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Philippe Lang is looking for $140,863 from fellow Amiga enthusiasts, which he'll spend producing a run of new cases for Amiga (and Amiga-alike) computers, in 12 colors of UV-resistant plastic. Read the rest

The International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo: greatly improved, but something important has been lost

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When The fraternal organization was founded in 1892, it was a racist, sexist club for men associated in some way with the lumber industry. Today, Hoo Hoo International accepts members of all genders and backgrounds, and does good works related to tree planting, as well as generally promoting responsible forestry, which is quite an improvement. Read the rest

You can't get tickets for an LA theater screening of old Disneyland home movies

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"Hollywood Home Movies: Disneyland" screens tomorrow night at the Linwood Dunn Theater in LA and it's sold out. It sounds amazing. Read the rest

Buck Rogers and the Copyright Trolls

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Remember the Sherlock Holmes case where the Conan Doyle Estate was shaking everyone down for sub-litigation payoffs and asserting claims over Holmes (despite serious copyright scholars all saying they had no right to do so) until Les Klinger stuck to his guns?

Now it’s happening again, with some minor variations, only this time the weapon of choice is Buck Rogers.

Amazing, surreal science fiction photo-collages

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Good photo-collages are pretty easy to make, just contrasting things in ways that are quirky and eye-catching. But great photo-collages are hard, and when they work: woah. Read the rest

The Enigma Machine wristwach: a wearable Arduino recreation

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Alan Turing and the codebreakers of Bletchley Park invented modern crypto and computers in the course of breaking Enigma ciphers, the codes that Axis powers created with repurposed Enigma Machines -- sophisticated (for the day) encryption tools invented for the banking industry -- to keep the Allies from listening in on their communications. Read the rest

Line-art: squirming criminals in an authoritative hand

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In 1948, the Institute of Applied Science commissioned an unknown illustrator to depict a fistful of squirming, terrified criminals caught in an authoritative fist, under the headline "CAUGHT BY THEIR FINGERTIPS" -- they were advertising a home Criminal Investigation and Identification course. Read the rest

LA Whiskey Society tastes and reviews "medicinal" whiskey from Prohibition

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From 1920 to 1933, the only way to drink whiskey in America was to get a doctor's prescription, which would be pasted on the bottle (max one bottle/person/week) -- much like the "medical marijuana" of today. Read the rest

Bloom County on the heyday of newspaper funnies

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The triumphant return of Bloom County is a reminder of the glory days of newspaper funnies, but this weekend's color strip was a hell of a reminder of how far we've come since the newspapers were the home of our daily chuckle. Read the rest

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