Vintage Publications Online

By | Dec 17, 2008

Some websites out there can suck me in for hours of page clicking. Usually it’s some sort of retro-theme; a vintage look at something I remember as a kid (a huge inspiration for RCGrabBag). A reader on (another one of those suck-me-in websites) tells us of another website hosting scans of old Radio Shack catalogs! Radio Shack was a perennial Christmastime favorite for me when I was a kid. I loved looking at and wishing for walkie-talkies, CB radios, tape recorders, electronic project kits, all that sort of mad-scientist stuff. Looking at those catalogs sure took me back. Some of the product photos invoked reactions like “holy crap, I remember that!”, and they probably will for you to, so check out the Radio Shack Catalog Archive.

Not to be outdone, monstrously successful, all powerful, omnipotent web presence, Google, has their own vintage publication archive of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science magazines. I was amazed to find out these magazines go all the way back to the 1800’s!

Not only that, seems like someone figured out the solution to our energy problems back in 1960. Think fuel cells are a new idea born from the space program? Nope, they were powering farm tractors before space capsules. Here’s a quote from the February, 1960 issue of Popular science, from an article entitled “Electric Tractor Makes Its Own Juice” on the subject of fuel cells. It’s scary…

“Another possibility more intriguing but more distant is marriage of fuel cells to sunlight-to-electricity converters (the kind used in satellites). They seem to be made for each other. The solar generator would pour out juice during the day, when you don’t need it much. But you might store this electricy by running a fuel cell backwards: Electricy coming in would decompose water into its hydrogen and oxygen….a closed system. Water changes to hydrogen and oxygen, then back to water again. The only thing that get’s used up is sunshine-and the sun shines whether you put it to work or not.” 

OK, I want to know which of the big oil companies bought the patent on this system and then buried it so we would continue our oil addiction? Using a fuel cell in conjunction with solar panels is brilliant. I believe Honda now has a self-contained solar powered hydrogen fueling station. We need one of those on every street corner.

If websites like this keep getting produced, I’ll never get anything meaningful done!

Radio Shack Catalog Archive
Popular Mechanics Archive
Popular Science Archive

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