history stories

"This is a stickup, see? Now turn over all your valuables and no one needs to get hurt." Back in 1928, a line like that would have been met with chattering teeth and shaking, raised arms. In 1929, however, Chicagoan inventor Sammy Schwarz would see it answered with "a stream of lead bullets in his face."
Back in the day, electronics were made with vacuum tubes, which are like little light bulbs that function as amplifiers or switches. In the present, electronics use transistors instead, which do the same thing but can be made tiny and for cheap. NASA researchers have now figured out how to make vacuum tubes on the nanoscale, which could mean faster, more reliable computers.
Five of the most powerful rocket engines ever constructed have been lying at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, ever since they were cast off approximately 2 minutes and 41 seconds after doing their part to send Apollo 11 to the moon. Jeff Bezos (that Jeff Bezos) has managed to find them again, and he's planning to bring them back to the surface.
While playing Centipede (don't judge) at my local mall in the '80s, it never occurred to me that somewhere behind the soon-to-fall Iron Curtain there would be some punk playing the Soviet version of arcade games as well. Hell yeah they were! Now, thanks to two nostalgic Muscovites who remembered their days of playing "Sea Battle," there is an entire museum full of these Soviet-era games. The story of the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines is so cool we couldn't make this up if we tried.
See that mass of nuts, bolts, gears and belts above? You could walk into a dollar store today and buy a calculator that does more with the spare change in your pocket. Back in the 1960s, however, machines such as the German-built Hamann 505 were computing powerhouses and commanded a $1,000 price tag in the day's dollars, easy. The stripped-down 505 pictured is one of some 50 machines in Mark Glusker's amazingly well-kept collection of antique rotary and printing calculators. Photographer Kevin Twomey swung by Glusker's home to take some pictures of the gorgeous machines' guts.