Giant hats were the cellphones of the silent movie era

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Silent movies were preceded by stern/comic etiquette messages reminding viewers to take off their hats before the show, lest they interfere with other viewers' enjoyment. Read the rest

Robert Silverberg's government-funded guide to the psychoactive drugs of sf

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In 1974, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse commissioned sf giant Robert Silverberg to research and write Drug Themes in Science Fiction," a survey of 75 sf stories and novels that included fictional psychoactive drugs. Read the rest

Hacker puppets explore the relationship between carbon paper and copyright

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Gus writes, "Remember carbon paper? You’re probably of a certain age if you can recall typing on a sandwich of two sheets of paper with a thin, grimy, black sheet between them to make copies." Read the rest

J Edgar Hoover loved Efrem Zimbalist's "FBI"

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "While J. Edgar Hoover wasn't a big fan of much media in the 60s -- he worked to rewrite one of Hitchcock's scripts and made Walt Disney re-work Tomorrowland -- there was one show that struck a chord: ABC's The FBI." Read the rest

The origin story of the Timothy Leary archives

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Lisa Rein writes, "Fresh from a Supreme Court victory in a marijuana case, and armed with a campaign song written by John Lennon, maverick psychologist and prominent LSD researcher Timothy Leary decided to run for governor of California in a bid to unseat the incumbent Ronald Reagan, only to be knocked out of the race by a felony conviction and 10-year sentence for possession of two half-smoked marijuana joints, as a symbol of Nixon's newly proclaimed War on Drugs." Read the rest

Menus of the 1850s and 1860s

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The Hilton College of the University of Houston's Hospitality Industry Archives includes a wonderful selection of menus from the 1850s and 1860s. Read the rest

Alan Moore's brilliantly bonkers lost 1980s Star Wars comics

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Jahfurry writes, "Ben McCool over at Tech Times unearthed five brilliantly bonkers Star Wars comics written by Alan Moore in the '80s. What a treat to read the Magus's take on Darth Vader, Han, Chewie, C-3P0 and the whole crew with great art by Alan Davis, John Stokes (Invisibles) and more UK artists extraoirdinaire... McCool examines each story separately, giddily dissecting the imaginative insanity you'd expect from Moore, while marveling at how these read as classic, albeit odd, Star Wars stories." Read the rest

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

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