Kelp Harvester at Work

Burning Kelp for War

World War I saw the availability of potash plummet, while its price doubled. The US found this critical component for multiple industries in Pacific kelp.
A man with a ham radio

Ham Radio and Gender Politics

During its heyday in the 1950s, ham radio was predominantly a hobby for middle-class men, based in suburban homes.
from the cover of Radio-Electronics, June 1949, Volume 20, Number 9

Can Radio Really Educate?

In the 1920s, radio was an exciting new mass medium. It was known for providing entertainment, but educators wondered if it could also be used for education.
A British soldier training in 1941

The Bayonet: What’s the Point?

According to one scholar, the military sees training in this obsolete weapon as helpful on the modern battlefield.
The House of Tomorrow, artist rendering exterior view

Solar Housing Is Actually Kind of Retro!

The domestic fuel scarcity of World War II led to innovation in home heating—especially passive solar technology.
A finger pressing a doorbell, circa 1950.

When the Push Button Was New, People Were Freaked

The mundane interface between human and machine caused social anxiety in the late nineteenth century.
Length of Brocaded Silk, Italy, 18th century

Eighteenth-Century Spies in the European Silk Industry

Curious about the advancing wonders of the age, savants traveled abroad to gather trade secrets for their homeland.
An illustration of the Whole Earth Catalog over a 90s computer graphic

The Whole Earth Catalog, Where Counterculture Met Cyberculture

Long before Facebook or Twitter, an L.L. Bean-style catalog for hippies inspired the creation of one of the world’s first social networks.
Handstone with model mine

The Princes of Saxony Collected These Kitschy Miniature Mountains

Struck with “Berggeschrey,” or “mountain clamour,” early modern nobles of Saxony dolled up the dirty and dangerous work of the mines with gold and glitter.