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Robert Austin

Science and Invention

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Hugo Gernsback is probably best known for launching the world's first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories back in 1926. He started out in the publishing business in 1908 with Modern Electrics, catering to hobbyists early in the development of 'wireless'. In 1913 he launched The Electrical Experimenter, which became Science and Invention in 1920, covering a broad range of amateur science topics, now often speculative. The oversized (9x12 inch) covers were colorful paintings, and the paper tended to be common thick 'pulp' paper of the era.

The cover story for the November, 1922 issue was entitled ?The Thought-Wave Detector,? which just might be the first popular description of an early EEG. After describing how chemical events in the brain generate electromagnetic waves, the piece goes on to report that ?Such a wave can be measured and recorded when the disturbance is properly amplified by the new Multiple-Electrode-Vacuum-Tube Amplifier, and instrument now known to a select few of the inner circle of America's foremost scientists and physicists. Marconi is trying to the planet Mars with it. Edison is trying to communicate with the dead with it...?

Those were 'heady' times, indeed! And, judging by the admittedly speculative cover painting (and what's that Tesla coil doing, associated with brainwave measurement?), the gear was a lot larger than modern EEGs, say, the excellent Brainmaster Atlantis system.

I'll be mentioning a few other choice issues soon, especially the ?Hypnotone? and ?The Dream Recorder,? but if you'd like to see more of these delightful covers from nearly a century ago, visit
- and this excellent site has many covers of other old magazines, as well. Enjoy!
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Updated 06-05-2011 at 06:47 PM by Robert Austin



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