Can you tell what they are for?

See the answers at the bottom of the page...

1. This is not a telephone. What is it?

2. Not a mouse, not even an USB device:

3. I can only say that it sells well in Japan:


This is not a mystery; I just loved this...

Chainsaw Gun, oh my.

In our previous "Mystery Device" issue we featured some hamster-powered devices; here is more:

Hamster-Powered MIDI Sequencer:

Read more about it here

"Enslave lower mammals to produce power for a night light.":
Seen here

The whole Power Station moved by these enthusiastic critters is described here:

Toy robots are an obvious choice:

Kid choppers...

(photo by: Jodi Kurland)

The utmost in exploitation? The whole car powered by hamsters.
(yes, shown at Toyota competition, powered by the amplified electric power generated by hamsters running)

But let's get back to enigmatic gadgets:

4. Training for the Space Program?

5."The Vintage Matrix" outtake?
Wunderkind's educational device?

6. Wow, TV and turntable in one? Really high-tech for the 60s:

7. This one is truly a mystery, I honestly have no clue:


1. It's a Dictating Machine!
The wax cylinder recorder, made by "Chicago Dictating Machine Co". See color original here, thanks to Quadrofonic Wingnut

2. Unusually styled radio with the car shift stick selector
(found on this page via Cooler)

3. It's Japanese take on a sexy bedroom lamp; apparently you can outfit it in a lingerie of your favorite style, like this for example:

See more here

4. Futuristic-styled doghouse. Dogs also had a groovy time in the 60s.

5. Just a humble hair-dryer from the 30s.
"One of the first machines used for permanent wave hairstyling back in the 1920's and 1930's." (thanks mamafrog)

6. This Mystery Device is "Picturesound!"
Sounds great, but alas, it was only slide projection unit, not a TV.
Built as an educational toy for kids, it's described in detail on this wonderful site (make sure you click the "next" button there)

7. UPDATE This is a pre-radar aircraft detection and acoustic location device, best seen in this link and this article. Depicted in the photograph is half of the equipment by Goerz, Czechoslovakia, 1920s; I wonder what the other half looks like. They were truly otherworldly looking and possibly very unwieldy to handle, but apparently quite precise: the best listener could achieve an accuracy of less than one degree in locating the intruding airplanes.

More of this weird bunch can be seen in this great article:
"Acoustic Location & Sound Mirrors"

Here is rather more portable listening equipment "Waalsdorf":

and even smaller "Paraboloids" listening equipment, meant to be worn around the head: (its operator does not seem to be very happy wearing it)

Thanks to all who provided the links to solve this!!

Read previous Mystery issue here

Category: Gadgets,Vintage


Visual Caffeine #8
Visual Caffeine, Issue 8

A thrilling blend of art, myths and technology

Visual Caffeine #7
Visual Caffeine, Issue 7

A thrilling blend of art, myths and technology

Art Deco
Imperial Dreams: Art Deco Update

Wings, Gears, & Glamorous Ladies

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is a pre-radar aircraft detection and localisation system .. using the sound of the aircraft engines and reflecting it into the listeners ears - the large distance between the artificial "ears" (parabolic sound mirrors) improves angular resolutin

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Number 7 is a hearing amplifier, it looks like.
i think its so that you can hear things far away, 1 for each ear

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with anonymous #2 on this one. It looks like the guy from picture nubmer 7 is standing on a beach, listening to the sound of the waves.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

as an addition to my first commetn (aircraft detection)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Anonymous. In fact, here's a great article about the whole "anti-aircraft listening device" genre:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

#7 is a machine built to locate armies by sound. It was common before the radar

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many examples of the kind of machines seen in #7 are found on

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

wow... thanks for the links... very interesting

Anonymous Anonymous said...

#7 is a Aucostic Location Device. It was used to detect airplanes before radar. I saw one in England a few years back. You can also learn about it here: http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=486

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, if you are wondering about the asymmetry of the acoustic receptors in 7, it might have been made to mimic Barn owls, which have no pinnas (external ear) but can still localize sounds in the vertical direction very well, thanks to asymmetric ears, one pointing up and the other down, http://www.wonderquest.com/owl-hearing.htm
shows an example about 1/3 of the way down.

Blogger mamafrog said...

The little girl is wearing one of the first machines used for permanent wave hairstyling. They were used back in the 1920's or 1930's. They were cumbersome and uncomfortable, and sometimes painful! No, I don't know this personally, just remember seeing one on a film of an old newsreel!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Number 1 is a wax cylinder recording machine.



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