Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Before the satnav receiver, there was the Jones Live-Map, first sold in 1909:





This was a large odometer wheel on which a paper disc was mounted that gave directions for a specific route between two cities. At specific distances, it would have marks on it that said things like "turn right after bridge," "watch for dangerous curves," and so on. Each disc covered a hundred miles of road, so for long trips, one would use multiple disks, purchased from The Touring Club of America. After ten years, there were 500 routes available.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


A more recent travel aid is the Traveller, a digital route finder:



Like a modern satnav receiver, it would calculate a route between two cities. It gave directions for each individual road intersection, and the driver would then press a button to advance the directions to the next intersection.

Stuart Ashen has a video review of it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYfFTynCpZo

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Here's a crap American train, the Camel:



That's the B&O No. 199, built in 1860, designed by eccentric engineer Ross Winans. It was built to solve the problem of how to burn poor anthracite coal. Winans's solutions was to build a huge firebox on the thing. It was so big that the engineer's controls were moved to the top of the boiler. It had a number of problems:
  1. The engineer roasted on top of the hot boiler.
  2. The fireman tending the firebox could not communicate easily with the engineer.
  3. To fire the front of the grate, the fireman had to shovel coal to the firing platform, then into a high hopper, and then pull a lever to dump the coal. It is believed that few bothered to do this, and that they only fired half the grate.
  4. The weight of the firebox was not supported by the frame but rather by a cantilevered joint on the back of the boiler.
  5. It could only go 15 m.p.h.
  6. There was no cladding on the cylinders, which caused the steam to condense so rapidly that it could only be run on cold days with the cylinder cocks open.
  7. The water pump is bizarrely mounted on the side of the firebox, requiring a long rod the length of the engine to pump it.
  8. The drawbar connecting the engine and tender goes directly under the firebox, causing it to heat up so much that it would often glow red and sometimes melt.

Whenever modifications were suggested to him by customers, Mr. Winans would angrily shift the blame to the engine crew, railroad maintenance, or anyone else, even going so far as to have two B&O chief mechanics fired for criticizing his engines. His orders quickly dried up.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Ross Winans was not only known for the Camel locomotive. He also build a cigar-shaped iron steamship in 1858, named Winans after himself. In addition to the new hull design, he put the propeller in the middle, but perpendicular to the length of the ship:





The problems with this design include:
  1. The ship had no keel, causing it to roll badly.
  2. When the water went over the bow, it would "catch" and pitch forward.
  3. The connection between the forward and aft hulls was weak because of the gap needed for the propeller.
  4. To go between the two hulls, a crewman had to go topside and walk across the propeller shroud.
  5. The propeller put out an extraordinary amount of spray, dousing anyone topside.

Winans tested the ship in Chesapeake Bay, but never on an ocean voyage. When the Civil War broke out, he tried to interest the Union in his ship, giving tours of it at its dock in Baltimore. They weren't interested.


Here is a contemporary photograph of the ship at dock:

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Frankston posted:

I didn't even know I found trains interesting till I read the last few pages of this thread.

Feel free to join us over in the Locomotive Insanity thread in AI.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


The Messerschmitt KR200

This is probably the most famous of the 1950s "bubble cars":



They are called "bubble cars" because they have no doors, just a hood, the "bubble", that one closes. The engine is a tiny 190 cc two-stroke engine.

Also interesting is the steering control, which is like that of a motorcycle:



This isn't a "failed" technology so much as an "obsolete" one. Microcars just aren't made anymore, even though these are valuable collectors items. I know that I would love to have one.

Here is a "Top Gear" episode from 1992 on the KR200:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COHo_yWLAbQ

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Here is an obsolete gun design: The Dreyse Needle Gun



This was a rifle used by the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. It was a breech-loader that used a paper cartridge with powder, a sabot, and the bullet. It is called a "needle" gun because it fired by puncturing the paper cartridge with a thin pin that ignited the powder. The ignition would push the sabot and burn the paper.

The problem was that puncturing the cartridge with a pin caused the powder to leak into the breach mechanism. A soldier could fire using the gun sights only for the first shot after cleaning, but after that ran the risk of losing an eye from breech flash. They could only be fired from the hip, and then you worry about when your hands would be burned by the breech flash. Also, the pin was fragile, and it would often be broken by the discharge.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Axeman Jim posted:

At least most of the disasters we've seen here were prototypes, pilot classes or small fleets, with the exception of the class 17 which was ordered into squadron service without a prototype, with ruinous consequences.

I forgot to mention something important about the Winans Camel. This wasn't a rejected prototype but rather a production vehicle that saw service on the B&O and P&R railroads. Many of the vehicles were in service, with many modifications, for forty years.

Here is a picture of the B&O No. 143, the last of the Camels, being broken up in 1898. It had been in service since being built in 1843, a service life of fifty-five years:


Even though they were poorly designed and poorly built, they did one thing very well: They actually burned cheap anthracite coal. Unfortunately for the crew and mechanics who had to keep them running, they cost half as much to run per ton-mile compared to other engines.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008



No, it was anthracite. When I say "cheap anthracite coal," I mean that it was much cheaper than the only workable alternative at the time, wood. The Camel was unusual in that it was the first mass-produced locomotive that ran well on coal when it was introduced in 1848. Three hundred of these engines were built. They became quickly obsolete as soon as engine builders discovered that monstrous fireboxes were not actually required.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


theironjef posted:

^^^Yeah, sci-fi loves flying wings. And why not, they're proven fliers and they aren't especially popular, plus we had a shining moment of them actually being around in the 50s which was a total melting pot for rad sci-fi ideas. The story of Jack Northrop and his B-35/B-49s is so sad. Especially with the little coda of when the folks building the B-2 showed him an early secret mockup well after he was so old he couldn't talk anymore (he grabbed a sheet of note paper and wrote "I now know why God has kept me alive all these years").

A recent flying wing was the McDonnell Douglas A-12 Avenger II, also known as the Flying Dorito:



It was supposed to be a carrier-launched stealth attack plane to replace the A-6 Intruder, but the U.S. Navy hosed up the contracting.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Pilsner posted:

PS: Sorry to be a party pooper, but this train, plane, car and bus chat really belongs in AI.

Agreed. It has drifted away from "obsolete and failed technology" and into just technology in general. For example, trolleybuses are a well-established and successful technology.


Here's an example of obsolete technology: the Stanley Steam Car:



It looks like a normal early automobile until you open the hood:



Here's a video by Jay Leno demonstrating how to start the car:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnab5sG9PQs

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Stop posting about science, get back to technology. Besides, you folks seem to agree that science is useful, but just disagree on how much we should trust the latest discoveries.

Speaking of which, I found a book from the 1950s on household cleaning, and it has a section on asbestos:

"Asbestos is used as a covering for stove and furnace pipes, as a fireproofing material for buildings, for lamp wicks and gas logs, glassworkers' gloves and firemen's clothing. Theaters are safeguarded against fire by asbestos curtains and even asbestos rugs. The homemaker uses it for mats on the stove, ironing board covers and sometimes, mixed with cotton, in dish towels."

It also has a chapter on the miracle chemical DDT.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Pham Nuwen posted:

Seymour Cray was a brilliant computer designer but he was convinced that having many processors isn't as useful as having a single fast processor.

He is supposed to have once said, "If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use: Two strong oxen or 1024 chickens?"

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


I'm surprised that no one has mentioned these yet: the VT100 terminal:



It was released in 1978 and was so successful that computers still have VT100 terminal emulation programs on them. I fondly remember banks of them at the university library for accessing the book database.

Hardware terminals aren't used anymore, though. Computing power is so cheap that it's wasteful to dedicate a machine to just providing a text terminal.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Lazlo Nibble posted:

After a while people started using it to create these little character-based animations that used pretty much every feature on the terminals -- graphics characters, double-height/double/width text, locked scrolling regions, flipping between smooth and line scrolling, making the screen shake around by switching in and out of interlaced-display mode really fast, you name it.

Lots of animations have been saved.

Here is a demo of all of the graphics functions:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZeDudfzAs0

The Twilight Zone:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipikgmVCNW4

More Beer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D_eg-NM5Pw

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Technically they are called videotex services. The most successful was France's Minitel:



It started in 1982 and finally went offline last year.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


DNova posted:

Minitel was basically a BBS that the terminal dialed into. I'm talking about a service that is broadcast over the air in DVB-T signals. Prior to DVB, it was done with analog broadcasts and whatever kind of decoder was necessary in the set-top-box or television.

Gotcha. I didn't notice the mention of television. Minitel was part of the phone service from France TÚlÚcom.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008



Wow, those are awful pictures. It's hard to imaging spending $350 for something like that!


An obsolete camera: The PureDigital Dakota Digital Single-Use Camera. Since disposable film cameras were so popular, why not a disposable digital one?



They came out in 2003 and cost $10.99 each. They could hold 25 exposures in memory, and then the user was supposed to return them to the store for prints. However, people figured out how to hack them so that they could download the pictures onto their computers for free, and many bought them with the intention of getting a cheap, hacked digital camera.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


8th-snype posted:

Also keep your ignorant goon lord assumptions out of the fist bump directed at forums poster Dr Tim Whatley, motherfucker. Not everything is about you or your lovely life choices. I just happen to own mostly manual focus cameras.

I had no idea camera batteries were such an explosive topic!

Or rather they aren't and you're just being a lovely poster. Shut up.

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Take the gun chat (chauchat chat ) to TFR. You've been discussing gun laws for a page now. This thread is for technology.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Brother Jonathan
Jun 23, 2008


Ephemeron posted:

A smartphone with a camera:



A clock-radio:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply