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Entries in john elfreth watkins jr (3)

Wednesday
Jun252008

The Victorian Internet

It is easy to forget (for my generation, anyways) that attempts to make language more efficient did not start with text-messaging. In a piece for the December 1900 Ladies' Home Journal, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. predicted that the letters C, X and Q would be deemed unnecessary in the 20th century:

There will be no C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.


The five-needle telegraph invented by Wheatstone and Cooke in the 1830s saw a similar efficiency that one might exploit. From the book The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage:

However, the limited number of possible combinations with the five-needle design meant that only twenty letters were included in the telegraphic alphabet; thus "C," "J," "Q," "U," "X," and "Z" were omitted. Although this design required separate wires between sender and receiver for each needle, it could transmit messages quickly without the need for a codebook.


See also:
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)
The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1900)
LOLfutures

 

Tuesday
Apr172007

What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)

On Monday we looked at the German translation of a piece by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. for the December 1900 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Today we have the English version which highlights the coming advances of the twentieth century. Below the full text is provided but we'll be examining it further over the next few weeks.

Excerpts from the article below can also be found in the book Yesterday's Future: The Twentieth Century Begins.


See also:
The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1900)

Sunday
Apr152007

The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1901)


In 1900 John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., author of many detective and mystery novels, wrote a piece for the December issue of Ladies Home Journal speculating about what the next hundred years held. Everything from weather control to pneumatic tube delivery to the science that will surely bring "strawberries as large as apples" were predicted.

According to the book Yesterday's Future: The Twentieth Century Begins the Watkins article was translated into German for the Milwaukee Herold und Seebote (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) in 1901.

Above is a scan of the front cover of the January 1, 1901 Milwaukee Herold und Seebote newspaper and below is the article by Watkins. Stay tuned for an English-language translation and analysis.