I try not to spend much time talking about ye olde timey computing that I lived through, because it quickly becomes boring to all but those who were there, and the future is so much more exciting. But in looking up evidence I had of Tektronix having Ethernet (and Internet connectivity before that), I found a photo of my olde timey Tektronix office desk, and couldn’t resist cataloging how office computing has changed.
In going through old family papers, I happened on a letter from my great-grandfather, John Foshay, to his wife, Martha (Whealdon) Foshay. It’s a letter composed mid-trip on a journey from Albany Oregon to California along what is now Interstate 5. Continue reading Travel is Broadening, 1873
Thanks to @feraldata I happened to be reading Elizabeth King’s piece on a 16th Century monk automaton. The article describes the automaton as having “duende”, loosely translated as “soul” – that is, there is something surprisingly profound (or upsetting) about this simple robot. That observation reminded me of the Laughing Sailor automaton that was popular as a Edwardian seaside amusement: drop in a coin, and the seated sailor in the glass booth would laugh and rock back and forth.
Sounds simple, non-threatening, and maybe even silly, doesn’t it? Yet when I saw a Laughing Sailor automaton up close, at Wookey Hole, I found it had something uncanny in its behavior: the all-too-real eyes flick malevolently to the left and right; the face is disturbingly half way between a smile and a grimace, and the not-quite-human rocking to and fro suggests the fellow is far too amused by some joke that may turn out to be on you!
A Laughing Sailor of one sort or another has appeared in various movies, always in the form of a malevolent robot whose laughter comments on the macabre situation. I’m not surprised – the little guy creeps me out.