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Entries in war (30)

Wednesday
Aug032011

Doughboys become "iron boys" to fight wars of the future (1926)

Between 1918 end of World War I and the 1939 start of World War II, American newspapers sometimes ran stories about how robots would battle in wars of the future. Still shaken from the incredible death toll of World War I, people hoped for a time when robots would fight in the place of humans. Sometimes this was imagined as something to ensure that only your side wouldn't see casualties, but other articles predicted a time when wars would simply be decided by whatever nation's robots could conquer that of another nation's robots, leaving no human casulaties.

The December 25, 1926 San Antonio Light ran this illustration of the robot soldier of the future. The illustration is based on an unnamed mechanical man with RUR emblazoned on its chest. R.U.R., of course being the name of the play by Karel Capek that introduced the word "robot" to the English speaking world in 1921. The caption explains that doughboys of the future (a term for American soldiers fighting in WWI) might be called iron boys if they're one day replaced by robots.

Possibly in some grim war of the future the doughboy will have become the "iron boy." The army has enlisted its first mechanical man "Private Robot," and put him to work at Aberdeen proving grounds.

 

Sunday
Jul102011

Futuristic Fliers for the Army (1958)

Who needs an army of robotic killing machines when you've got planes that look so darn intimidating and futuristic? According to this blurb in the March 29, 1958 Miami News, scaring the enemy to death was a possibility with a platton of these "fantastic fliers."

PHILADELPHIA, March 29 -- If the U.S. Army of the future can't beat an enemy, it may scare it to death with a platoon of flying machines like these. This is an artist's conception of air-ground vehicle designs submitted to the Army by various aircraft firms. The goal is to provide the Army with a utility vehicle that will give troops more mobility. These machines are supposed to rise vertically, hover at three feet or zip over mountains at 150 mph. They also are designed to fire rockets, duck behind hills, fly down an alley, hide amid trees and turn in their own length without touching the ground.

Thursday
Jun162011

Nuclear Winter: Poetry for the Apocalypse (1986)

This past September I was wandering the shelves of a Half Price Books in Austin, TX when I stumbled upon the most peculiar little book. Titled Nuclear Winter, this book from 1986 was aesthetically unimpressive, with its cover design rivaling the very worst masturbatory self-published volumes on Lulu. I instantly thought that the washed out black of the cover was likely a product of poor printing from a small indie publisher rather than the 25 years it had been sitting dormant.

Written by Stephen Daniel Mings, the book is a collection of 43 poems, each written from the perspective of a different person who has surivived a global nuclear war. Needless to say, it's a bit of a downer. This book of poetry is not recommended for getting your main squeeze in the mood, as Emily Dickinson's darkest lines would likely be more successful in that endeavor.

Nuclear Winter presents the viewpoints of individual nuclear holocaust victims, some adult, some children, in different locations and circumstances, who have survived the first shock of a major nuclear war. The poems are arranged in the order I wrote them between October and December 1985. They reveal a world in the grip of nuclear winter where snow and ice, changed weather patterns and grey clouded skies are made worse by the radioactive refuse of a planetary nuclear battleground.

My purpose is to alert the reader to the danger of a major nuclear war. I do not believe such a war is likely today, but it is more likely than it was ten or twenty years ago and if something is not done to prevent it, such a war will grow increasingly possible. Read the poems, see the consequences and avert the war. (February 1986)

 

Below is poem number eleven, titled Dear Santa.

 

Dear Santa, please hurry here.

Our daughter Marie is only four

but her logic is as clear

as midnight broken by the searing light

of the bomb blast.

She's afraid you aren't coming

because the shelter has no chimney,

only an air vent to filter out death.

She smiled a little when we told her

she'd join you in heaven.

But the morphine is almost gone and 

she won't be able to smile much longer.

 

--a woman

Puget Sound

North America

 

Monday
Feb072011

Tesla Predicts the Portable TV (1926)

In 1926 Nicola Tesla gave an interview to Collier's Weekly in which he predicted something that sounds remarkably like portable television. Perhaps most interestingly, he mentions that this technology would be used to watch war unfold, "just as though we were present."

NEW YORK, Jan 25 - (AP) - Application of radio principles will enable people by carrying a small instrument in their pockets to see distant events like the sorceress of the magic crystal fairy tales and legends, Nikola Tesla, electrical inventor, predicted today. Mr. Tesla, who on several occasion has tried to communicate with the planet Mars, made his predictions in an interview published in the current issue of Collier's Weekly.

"We shall be able to witness the inauguration of a president, the playing of a world's series baseball game, the havoc of an earthquake, or a battle just as though we were present," Mr. Tesla said.

I'm fascinated by the rise of the moving image during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1920's Thomas Edison was predicting that movies would replace textbooks, D.W. Griffith predicted that motion pictures would overtake the printed word, and Cecille B. Demille said that as the cost of camera equipment came down home movies would soon be produced by average Americans.

Every generation believes that they live in a special age of technological progress, but it is quite humbling to read about the rise of electricity, motion pictures, radio or television and trying to imagine what it must have been like to experience those things for the first time. Without belittling the accomplishments and enormous potential of the internet, I dare say those things were more jaw-dropping than the first time I popped in an AOL CD-ROM.

 

Article source: January 26, 1926 Nevada State Journal

Photo of Nicola Tesla: Library of Congress

 

Previously on Paleofuture: 

 

Friday
Jan212011

The Trench Destroyer (1917)

This chilling image from the height of World War I appeared on the February, 1917 cover of Hugo Gernsback's The Electrical Experimenter. The excerpt below is from Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future by Joseph Corn and Brian Horrigan.

The design of this mobile dreadnaught, with its steel-tired, spoked wheels, suggests that its inventor may have been influenced by agricultural tractors or perhaps an amusement park Ferris wheel. The trench destroyer also embodies the common goal of military visionaries: maximum offensive power with total defensive security.

 Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Tuesday
Jul062010

Will Humanity Annihilate Itself? (1939)

The March 29, 1939 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran this teaser for an article that was to appear in the April 2nd issue of The American Weekly.

At first glance, I had assumed that the ad was referencing this article that we looked at from 1935, but upon closer inspection it would seem they simply used the same drawing of a robot soldier from Erik Nitsche. Maybe if I track down the actual 1939 article from Professor C.M. Joad I'll straighten this whole robotic mess out. Until then, enjoy the pictures (...of an uber-dystopian, sentient robot hellscape!)

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Dec052009

A Whole World of Metal Men? (1937)

Reading about robots as envisioned in the 1920s and 30s, it is always a question of when robots would replace humans in every facet of life, rather than if. This article from the October 17, 1937 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) paints a pretty bleak picture of the future of humankind. You really need to read the full article to appreciate just how far along this robo-dystopia had been imagined.

But Professor von Schmidt saw the possibility of robots becoming so well-developed mechanically that they will automatically be abel to control each other, and will outlive and perhaps wipe out their creators, man. They may become such perfect "supermen" that will despise their inferior inventors and keep them locked up in reservations and escape-proof prisons until the race dies out.

As terrible and fantastic as all this may sound, thoughtful men in Europe think it is becoming a likelihood with inventions already perfected by science. Indeed, a peep at this world of the future has been given in some extremely interesting pictures, a few of which are shown on this page.

1937 Oct 17 San Antonio Light - San Antonio TX

Previously on Paleo-Future: