Saturday, October 27, 2007

Noble but utterly and unsurprisingly failed

I started working at Philadelphia's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, where, under the pretenses of working on a research project, I've been going through the treasure trove of documents that disorganized governmental organizations never throw out. From a 1964 issue of "Library Journal":

"AURAL READING MACHINE: A new machine to enable the blind to read ordinary printed material is being evaluated by the Battelle Memorial Institute. At the present stage of development of the reader, the sounds produced by the device do not resemble speech but are patterns of musical tones similar to chords played on an organ. By interpreting these tones, trained users should ultimately attain a speed of 15 to 30 words per minute."

Which led Mr. Wiegle and I to envision the following fantasy history:

"ORAL READING MACHINE: At the present stage of development, the machine converts inputted text into an omelette recipe, then makes an omelette. By interpreting these omelettes, trained users should ultimately attain a reading speed of 300 words per meal (wpm). Users will be able to program the machine to automatically process the morning newspaper and create omelettes before the user awakes. The user can then consume breakfast and the news simultaneously. A meal of 36 omelettes will result in the reading of the major sections of a standard local paper."

NY Times Headline, 6/27/1965: "Study shows blind people gaining weight more rapidly than other demographic groups"

1 comment:

B said...

Fantasy, my left foot! I've already consumed 8 omelets while having the contents of your entire blog processed for me!
My ticker's a little worse for the wear, but that's why I'm switching to "egg-beaters" and soy cheese. First thing. Tomorrow.
Eh, screw it, I'll just make it a New Year's resolution.