Uncle Hugo

by wjw on January 8, 2015


Hugo Gernsback, the founder of modern science fiction, at his desk.

Feel free to make up your own joke.

(And what is that thing attached to his telephone?)

TRX January 8, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Having had the misfortune to work in a cube farm once, I probably don’t think that picture is nearly as amusing as most people do.

Trying to accomplish work while breathing air contaminated by a nearby worker who apparently used some sort of insecticide as perfume, people screaming at their speakerphones from ten feet away, and the rest of the incessant commotion made it hard to keep focus.

Most people could apparently tune it all out, but it drove me nuts.

Shash January 9, 2015 at 12:59 am

TRX, cube farm work (which I do) is my favorite excuse for owning noise-cancelling headphones. Half the time I am wearing them, I am not listening to anything.

And given the illnesses I’ve already suffered this winter, a total head and body condom sounds like a good idea. But Gernsback’s helmet would make it darn difficult to blow one’s nose.

SpacemanFry January 9, 2015 at 4:22 pm

It looks to me like the attachment to the phone is so he can use it while wearing that helmet. The attachment seems shaped to make good contact with the helmet and thus transmit sounds waves through the helmet via induction.

kpacheneg January 10, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Actually, auditory sensory deprivation is counterproductive to any activity that isn’t meditative. After all, we evolved in environments of constant background noise, however faint. This unnatural state only diverts concentration away from the outside world, like your writing, and to your inner world, your breathing and memories.

TRX January 10, 2015 at 8:30 pm

When I first saw this picture a few years ago I decided Gernsback was trying to be funny. I still do.

First, the distance of the viewports from the eyes and their small diameter mean each eye would only be able to see part of the paper he’s writing on. That’s just not enough field of view even for correspondence.

Second, that air hose is far too short. You’d have to tilt the helmet just right even to get it on or off, and even then the hose would probably tip the bottle over.

Plus… no inbox or outbox? No typewriter? No Dictaphone? No extra radio bits laying around? They were all tools of his trade.

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