Took longer than they thought

American Radio Library has added more issues of Philco News. Skimming through the sequence shows the fadeout of US electronics. From 1930 to 1950, Philco was a top producer of consumer products, from radios and TVs to appliances. Philco was proud of its focus on consumers instead of shareholders. After 1950, the magazine focuses more and more on government contracts. Philco developed an especially fast transistor in 1953, and quickly used it for fast computers and microwave communications. Both products were primarily bought by Deepstate. Philco followed the path that Ike described and prophesied, abandoning the uncertainty of customers and profit for the dead certainty of military and Deepstate cost-plus contracts.

This 1962 issue includes two Deepstate projects that seem mighty familiar now.

1. Computerized education.

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The long-range plan may be a completely computer-based educational system. In this system, students will be able to draw upon much of the accumulated knowledge of past and present through an information retrieval system; then will be individually machine tutored as well as instructed in groups by a large computer; the productivity of the teaching hour will be increased, and the data processing tasks of administrators and counselors will be handled with fully automated efficiency.

The CLASS facility at SDC will enable Philco to develop educational technology that can be incorporated into present school systems both successfully and economically. It is possible that within five years the first computers will make their debut in the nation’s classrooms.

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Took a lot longer than five years. Small computers debuted in the 1980s. The Sinclair in Britain was first, then Apple and TRS-80 in US. The information retrieval system didn’t happen until 2000. Machine tutoring has been around in both mechanical and electronic forms for a long time, but finally reached universal MANDATORY status in 2020.

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2. VR
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While the old Philadelphia “busy body mirror” was designed for the resident to watch the street beneath his window from the privacy of his second floor room, the remote Surveillance system devised by Philco permits the user to observe, unseen, from great distances. Called “Headsight Television System”, it is a portable monitoring device that gives the user an “at hand” picture of a scene several hundred miles away. The user can direct the remote camera by head motions while he observes the picture on a television screen mounted directly in front of his eyes.

The new device looks a bit on the Buck Rogers side, but has been designed to fill an essential need. This need is the increasing call for observation in dangerous environments, created either by man or by nature, at distances great enough to assure the safety of one who is charged with watching.

Examples of such needs include ocean depths, space, radio-active areas or military combat zones, all of which hold interesting, even essential information which cannot very well be gained in person.

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The ‘busybody mirror’ seems to be a very old device attributed to Ben Franklin, basically a set of angled mirrors outside a second-floor window to watch traffic in several directions. Its electronic form resurfaced in 2010 as the Ring doorbell camera, strictly for busybodies.

VR has been part of military technology for 100 years, and it’s still primarily for military use. Stupid civilian projects by Zuck and others were never meant to be profitable enterprises. They’re just cover and verification for the Deepstate end of the project.

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Trying to guess what’s in the Philco VR headset, assuming it’s not just a fake mockup. Seems to be a gyroscope on top, to provide the baseline for head motions. There’s no room for a real TV-style CRT, but the front bridge-like part could contain a narrow oscilloscope CRT pointing downward, with a prism toward the eyes.

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