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The Fiske Studying Machine: The Twenties Precursor to the Kindle

The Sony Librie, the primary e-reader to make use of a contemporary electronic-paper display screen, got here out in 2004. Previous as that’s in tech years, the fundamental concept of a handheld gadget that may retailer giant quantities of textual content stretches at the least eight many years farther again in historical past. Witness the Fiske Studying Machine, an invention first profiled in a 1922 situation of Scientific American. “The instrument, consisting of a tiny lens and a small curler for working this eyepiece up and down a vertical column of reading-matter, is a way by which strange typewritten copy, when photographically decreased to one-hundredth of the house initially occupied, will be learn with fairly the power that the impression of standard printing sort is now revealed to the unaided eye,” writes creator S. R. Winters.

Making books appropriate with the Fiske Studying Machine concerned not digitization, in fact, however miniaturization. Based on the patents filed by inventor Bradley Allen Fiske (eleven in all, between 1920 and 1935), the textual content of any ebook might be photo-engraved onto a copper block, decreased ten instances within the course of, after which printed onto strips of paper to be used within the machine, which might make them readable once more via a magnifying lens. A single magnifying lens, that’s: “A blinder, hooked up to the machine, will be operated in obstructing the view of the unused eye.” (Winters provides that “using each eyes will probably contain the development of a unit of the studying machine extra elaborate than the current design.”)

“Fiske believed he had single-handedly revolutionized the publishing trade,” writes Engadget’s J. Rigg. “Because of his ingenuity, books and magazines might be produced for a fraction of their present value. The price of supplies, presses, delivery and the burden of storage is also slashed. He imagined magazines might be distributed by put up for subsequent to nothing, and most powerfully, that publishing in his format would enable everybody entry to instructional materials and leisure regardless of their stage of earnings.” Contemplating how the connection between readers and studying materials finally advanced, thanks to not copper blocks and magnifiers and tiny strips of paper however to computer systems and the web, evidently Fiske was a person forward of his time.

Alas, the Fiske Studying Machine itself was simply on the flawed aspect of technological historical past. Whilst Fiske was refining its design, “microfilm was starting to catch on,” and “whereas it initially discovered its toes within the enterprise world — for preserving document of cancelled checks, for instance — by 1935 Kodak had begun publishing The New York Instances on 35mm microfilm.” Regardless of absolutely the prevalence that format quickly attained on this planet of archiving, “the urge for food for miniaturized novels and handheld readers by no means materialized in the way in which Fiske had imagined.” Nor, absolutely, may he have imagined the shape the digital, electronic-paper-screened, and slim but vastly capacious kind that the e-reader must take earlier than discovering success within the market — but someway with out fairly displacing the paper ebook as even he knew it.

by way of Engadget

Associated content material:

The e-E book Imagined in 1935

Napoleon’s Kindle: See the Miniaturized Touring Library He Took on Army Campaigns

Uncover the Jacobean Touring Library: The seventeenth Century Precursor to the Kindle

Behold the “E book Wheel”: The Renaissance Invention Created to Make Books Transportable & Assist Students Examine A number of Books at As soon as (1588)

The Web page Turner: A Fabulous Rube Goldberg Machine for Readers

Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embrace the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the ebook The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.



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