Saturday, September 22, 2018

Mary Poppins: A Magic Lantern in the Nursery

I was watching Mary Poppins aboard a flight the other day and during the number starting with: 

In every job to be done, there is an element of fun.
Find the fun and snap, the jobs a game....

And a"  spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...

Which takes place in the children's nursery, I suddenly noticed a detail that had escaped me for so many years. There is clearly a small magic lantern on a shelf in the nursery.  Take a look:


Here's a close up:


Want to know about using a magic lantern or the history of magic lanterns?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Magic Lantern

Magic Lantern Lit
Magic Lantern Lit!
The magic of light!  The Magic Lantern. In our office, we have what is known as a Magic Lantern! We fired it up this week.

Photons travelling through the air creating an image of a place, a time, where in most cases, it would not have been possible to travel to or see without the help of a Magic Lantern.

No need to rub this lantern and make a wish to be transported to a new dimension.

We take a lot for granted in the 21st century. Roll back time just a couple of generations to the middle of the 18th century one would see teachers using a Magic Lantern to transport their student to a place outside their classroom. Today, it’s the Internet, along with cell phones, iPads, tablets but in those days a different but special set of tech tools were required.

In order to create photons with enough lumens to create an image one would have to burn fuel. (Certain fuels burned brighter than others but that is a whole different subject). 
The light from that fuel would be shine onto a convex mirror to concentrate the light and reflect it through a lens that would project the filtered image onto a screen (in most cases a wall). 

In the following pictures (each picture tells a thousand words) we show you the technology behind the Magic Lantern along with images of what is required to make that technology function correctly.

Enjoy and truly appreciate what we have today!



Please Note that some items were substituted i.e lighter, scissors, newer bottle of parafin fuel and such


















Want more information our  Magic Lantern?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Morse Code

The telegraph with Morse Code revolutionized long distance communications in 1800s.  Coupled with the railroad, it launched the modern network era which directly led to the Interstate Highway System, the telephone system, and today's Internet.

My Dad used and knew Morse. I know:

dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot (SOS).  

For my birthday, I received my own Morse Code set (thanks Diane and Brian).

Morse Code Signaling Outfit
Morse Code Signaling Outfit

I'm sort of surprised that there's no more websites and apps dedicated to allowing us to experience the beauty of Morse Code. Well, there's a project!

Vintage Cameras

While today's youth might be unfamiliar with taking pictures with a dedicated camera, I can well remember black and white cameras, Polaroid cameras, Kodak Instamatics, bellows cameras, flash bulbs, and even developing and printing lack and white photos.  And my collection is full of these. In fact, it got enriched by two new cameras in the past week.

These are Polaroid cameras before the Polaroid became synonymous with instant photography.


Selfies weren't so practical with the old technology....




The Polaroid Instant Camera.







Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Cootie Game

 I can remember  that my cousin and I called it the ant game and in my version, the head and the body were the same color and the legs, antennas, and eyes were yellow
                                             one of my colleagues (Kim) when she saw my new purchase from Ebay.


The Cootie game was marketed as an 'Educational Game Suitable for All Ages."  It was pretty popular when I was a kid in the 60s. It seemed like every family had one.


The Cootie Game was a turn-based game that could be played with up to four players. The goal was to build assemble all the parts into a complete free standing  plastic bug - a cootie. Created by William Schaper, Cootie went on the market and was a huge hit 1949 (Was there a wood version originally or was it always made out of plastic?). In 1973, Cootie was acquired by Tyco Toys, and, in 1986, by Milton Bradley which was part of Hasbro.  It continues to be available in stores.


There were other cootie games sold by other manufacturers but only this one went big time.  Does anyone know anything about the origin of the word "Cootie"?


Wikipedia reports that: The earliest recorded use of the word "cootie" appears in Albert N. Depew's World War I memoir, Gunner Depew (1918): "Of course you know what the word 'cooties' means....When you get near the trenches you get a course in the natural history of bugs, lice, rats and every kind of pest that had ever been invented."[5] The word may be derived from Malaysian kutu, a head louse.[6] In North American English, children use the word to refer to a fictitious disease or condition, often infecting members of the opposite sex.[7] 

It continues...In 1948, Minneapolis, Minnesota postman William H. Schaper[8] whittled a bug-like fishing lure he believed had toy potential, and sold it (and others like it) in his store as a sideline to his homebound business of manufacturing small commercial popcorn machines.[9][10]Eventually, he created a game around his creation, and, in 1949, molded it in plastic and formed the W. H. Schaper Mfg. Co. Inc..[1][9]
Schaper offered Dayton's, a local department store, several Cootie sets[2] on consignment[9] and the game proved a hit,[2] selling 5,592 by the end of 1950.[10][11] By 1952, Schaper's company sold 1.2 million Cootie games,[9] and thereafter, a million games a year.[2]

Other Cootie Games (also from Wikipedia)...
Cootie Game, ca. 1915
Schaper's game was not the first based upon the insect known as the "cootie". The creature was the subject of several tabletop games, mostly pencil and paper games, in the decades of the twentieth century following World War I.[9] The Cootie Game fashioned by the Irvin-Smith Company about 1915 was a hand-held game that involved tilting capsules into a trap[9] over a background illustration depicting a WWI battlefield. In 1927, the J. H. Warder Company of Chicago released Tu-Tee, and the Charles Bowlby Company released Cootie; though based on a "build a bug" concept similar to Schaper's, both were paper and pencil games.[9] In 1937, Rork's released The Game of Cootie, and it too was a paper and pencil game.[9] A paper and pencil party game called Beetle is popular in Britain but its date of origin is unknown. In 1939, Transogram published Cootie, a game featuring a three-dimensional wooden bug assembled in a die-cut tray.[9] Schaper's game was the first to employ a fully three-dimensional, free-standing plastic cootie.[9]

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Vintage Paymaster Series S-1000

Guest blogger Jenny here! I work for VocabularySpellingCity and took my father-in-law on a tour around the office.  As he admired all of the retro educational technology in the office, his immediate reaction was "Wow! This is a walk down memory lane...".

Smiling faces greeted him along the way as he met most of the office staff. His second, and most noted, observation was the pleasant work environment. He shared that observation with colleagues, friends, and family for days to come.

That evening, he called to tell me that he had a vintage Paymaster machine from Paymaster Corp that could use a good home. Being born in the 1980's, I had no idea what a Paymaster machine was, but the excitement in his voice was contagious, so I told him to dust it off and we would adopt it.

Vintage Paymaster Series S-1000

This Paymaster machine was used by my father-in-law to process payroll from 1982 - 1999. The equipment originated from Paymaster Corporation, a Chicago-based company. 


Some of you may have the same question that I did, "Why is this machine superior to a simple ink pen?" A Paymaster machine was used to validate the integrity of a check. As you can see in the images below, the text is raised - almost like a notary seal. 


This provided added security to prevent fraudulent checks. 

The Paymaster Series S-1000 still had its original dust cover, which displayed a warning to beware of unauthorized personnel.

"Only a Paymaster distributor displaying a currently dated identification card is permitted to inspect, service, or renew the Paymaster two year Warranty. Do not void your Paymaster Warranty by allowing unauthorized personnel to service your Paymaster."


My father-in-law was happy to see that his payroll machine found a new home with fellow retro technology pieces.  Thank you for donating your piece of history to us, Tom! 






Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Record Players and Victrolas


This Newcomb record player seemed to be in every classroom across the US in the 60s, 70s, and   80s.  They had a lid and folded up for easy storage.   Did you have one of these plaid beige record players in a box? Do you still have one? (I'd like to add another to my collection.)



Another popular record player in the classrooms was the Caliphone record player, also a portable record player in a box.  Below is my new Caliphone 1440 which I bought from Ebay which turns but which does not play since it does not have a needle...yet. I'm about to go shopping for Caliphone needle (once I find out if it's hard to install).


My collection of vintage educational technology started when I brought in the typewriter that I had used in high school.  Most of the people in my office had never touched such a thing. My next big step forward was in 2011 when I bought this victrola.  

I haven't taken the victrola into the office, I keep it at home. Partially because while it is old and genuine, I'm not entirely sure that it counts as something used in education.


 I think Victrolas were more for home entertainment than in schools.

The machine came with one particularly beat-up old 78 rpm record: it had a cigarette burn on it only the first third played. But it  was the army fight song.


Over hill, over dale...Or is it ...



Over Here, Over there, we will hit, the dusty trail, and those cassions, go rolling along.

Since then, I've bought a set of more interesting records and built a collection of record players.

Edison Gold Molded Records

The recording of human voice was started by Thomas Edison who initially used wax cylinder to record the vibrations that constitute the human voice.  In 1917, Edison went into business selling Edison Gold Molded Records where the recording was on a cylinder. It's not really a record player since the "records" are rolls.  


Edison Gold Molded Records
Edison Gold Molded Records
Here's a little more info from the  University of California website:

The "Gold-Moulded" process, developed in 1902, significantly ameliorated these limitations (ed: uneven quality, limited number of quality copies etc). The process involved creating a metal mould (sic) from a wax master; a brown wax blank could then be put inside the resulting mould and subjected to a preestablished and precisely calibrated level of heat. As the blank expanded, the grooves would be pressed into the blank, and after cooling, the newly moulded cylinder could be removed from the mould. The "gold" from its namesake is derived from the trace levels of the metal that were applied as a conductive agent in creating the initial mould from the wax master. With Edison Gold-Moulded cylinders, playback speed was standardized at 160 revolutions per minute (RPM). The number of grooves on gold-moulded cylinders remained the same as for brown wax cylinders, at 100 TPI, or threads per inch.



In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, low cost and cute little record players were everywhere. Kids got their record players for birthdays and Christmas. Then, a new record for every occasion. 



Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Phonics Games & Other Classic Learning Games

When my daughter was about six, she walked over from the TV room to me and asked with a sly smile whether I knew how how much The Phonics Game was worth. I admitted that I did not.

Triumphantly, she said: "It's worth every penny!" and smiled, since she knew that it was -  somehow -very funny.  Imagine my joy when I checked out Ebay recently and sure enough, there was The Phonics Game for sale in "practically new condition."  I immediately bid high, knowing it was worth every penny.  Smile.

The Phonics Games


The phonics game contents
The Phonics Game included cassettes, many types
of cards, a timer, VHS tapes, and a mirror!


For those watching,  the 80s and 90s were a time of seemingly endless TV commercials for Hooked on Phonics and The Phonics Game, each with a 800 direct response message.  Aiming at the guilty-feeling of many mothers, especially the poor, these ads promised an increase in grades if they only bought them.  Hooked on Phonics was particularly aggressive until the FTC under the first Bush Administration cracked down on their non-verified claims and aggressive marketing techniques and took them out of business.

Spirograph was another educational toy popular in the 60s and 70s. It was really a simple matter of rotating some gears inside circles with a colored pencil tracing the pattern that that a hole in one of the gears made. It was addictive fun and we all learned patience and to make elaborate symmetrical designs. Educational?  I'm not sure but Hasbro had a huge hit on its hands with it so I bought one for our office as part of the ever-growing Retro Educational Technology collection.


Spirograph by Hasbro
Spirograph by Hasbro
The SEE and SPELL
The SEE and SPELL
A Precursor to VocabularySpellingCity
The Game of Cootie
The Game of Cootie
Cootie Game
Cootie Game


The HsngMouse for Hangman
HangMouse
The Famous Star on VocabularySpellingCity
who  his own hangman game
Here are a list of the classic interactive games featuring the HangMouse: HangMan Online, Sound It Out, Letterfall, Word Find, and  Read a Word