[Humanist] 23.409 devices prior to uses

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Nov 3 08:55:15 CET 2009


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 409.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Rafael_Peñaloza <rpenalozan at gmail.com>                   (46)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?

  [2]   From:    "dennis c.l." <cyberdennis at gmail.com>                     (45)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?

  [3]   From:    Igor Kramberger <k at aufbix.org>                            (20)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?

  [4]   From:    "Rabkin, Eric" <esrabkin at umich.edu>                       (57)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?

  [5]   From:    Susan Brown <sbrown at uoguelph.ca>                          (30)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?

  [6]   From:    Øyvind_Eide <oyvind.eide at iln.uio.no>                     (50)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?

  [7]   From:    Fred Moody <fred.moody at rice.edu>                          (49)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?

  [8]   From:    Francois Lachance <lachance at chass.utoronto.ca>            (26)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?

  [9]   From:    Ian Johnson <johnson at acl.arts.usyd.edu.au>                (82)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2009 09:08:39 +0100
        From: Rafael_Peñaloza <rpenalozan at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard,

This might not be what you are looking for, but my first thought
when reading your request was the _parachute_.
The modern parachute, as far as I recall, was invented during the 18th
century, a long time before airplanes (although, of course, there were
other uses for the device).

Cheers,
Rafael Penaloza

On Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 8:55 AM, Humanist Discussion Group
<willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 407.
>         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>        Date: Mon, 02 Nov 2009 07:54:26 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: devices prior to uses
>
> I'm interested in collecting a few examples of devices, physical or
> otherwise, that were invented prior to any practical application, or
> invented for one purpose but found eventually to have another. Also I
> would like to know about visionary inventions, by which I mean those
> inventions whose eventual application was envisioned but which at the
> time could not be realised.
>
> Thanks for any suggestions.
>
> Yours,
> WM
> --

--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2009 06:58:00 -0200
        From: "dennis c.l." <cyberdennis at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us>


How about communication satellites by Arthur C. Clark.
http://lakdiva.org/clarke/1945ww/
yours
dennis cintra leite


--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2009 10:46:24 +0100
        From: Igor Kramberger <k at aufbix.org>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us>

Good morning,

Willard wrote:
>  I'm interested in collecting a few examples of devices, physical or
>  otherwise, [...] or invented for one purpose but found eventually 
> to have another.
Phone was invented with the intention to help hearing impaired, but 
today they have the most difficulties to use it.

>  Also I would like to know about visionary inventions, by which I 
> mean those inventions whose eventual application was envisioned but 
> which at the time could not be realised.
Beside the Ted Nelson's Xanadu server? His idea of hypertext.

Kind regards,

-- 
Igor
-----
Igor Kramberger, raziskovalec-urednik
 http://www.ff.uni-mb.si/index.php?page_id=81&person=89 

Koro'ska cesta 63, SI-2000 Maribor
pri Tom'si'c, Ulica Toma Brejca 11 a, SI-1241 Kamnik

Slovenija, Evropa



--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2009 07:51:02 -0500
        From: "Rabkin, Eric" <esrabkin at umich.edu>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us>

Lots of drugs, Willard; quite famously Viagra and, of course, aspirin as a cardiac treatment.  Lasers were not invented with bar codes or CDs in mind.  Computers, of course, were not intended initially for communication or visualization purposes but only for numerical computation.  Photographic film was not intended to show--as do X-rays--the invisible.  And microscopes were not invented for medical uses.

What a stimulating question!

Have fun.

Eric

----------------------------------------
Eric S. Rabkin 
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor 
Department of English
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003
www.umich.edu/~esrabkin



--[5]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 02 Nov 2009 09:35:00 -0500
        From: Susan Brown <sbrown at uoguelph.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us>

Hi Willard,

I understand that post-it notes were invented at 3M from a failed 
attempt to create a good glue. I have just heard this, however: I don't 
have a source to offer.

All the best,
Susan

--[6]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 02 Nov 2009 15:52:05 +0100
        From: Øyvind_Eide <oyvind.eide at iln.uio.no>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us>

What about boolean algebra? It was not developed by Boole with the  
digital computer as a foreseen practical application, one would think?

Subversive use would be similar to this, like the small whistles used  
by phreakers to fool the telephone system.

There are also several quite interesting examples of "pseudo- 
subversive" use, one of them being the Norwegian extract-of-malt brand  
Moss, which always had advertisements in the Oslo metro that "It is  
illegal to brew bear from Moss extract-of-malt. You eat Moss extract- 
of-malt for your good health!" making it clear for anyone who did not  
know that you can indeed brew beer from it.

Kind regards,

Øyvind Eide
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Unit for Digital Documentation, University of Oslo


--[7]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2009 07:36:14 -0800
        From: Fred Moody <fred.moody at rice.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us>

Not sure this is what you had in mind, but Viagra was one of those  
things...originally developed to increase blood supply to the heart.

Fred Moody
fred.moody at rice.edu
Editor-in-Chief
Rice University Press
rup.rice.edu
9759 NE Pine St.
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-2113
Voice: 206-855-0933
Cell: 206-601-1992
Google Voice: 206-801-0352



--[8]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2009 19:18:52 -0500 (EST)
        From: Francois Lachance <lachance at chass.utoronto.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us> from "Humanist

Willard, 

You mentioned that you "would like to know about visionary inventions, by which I mean those inventions whose eventual application was envisioned but which at the time could not be realised."

Edited and translated by Shelagh and Jonathan Routh, Leonardo's Kitchen Notebooks provides this amusing
example for your collection of devices in advance of their time. "On an Alternative to Filthy Tablecloths"

<quote>
Upon inspection of My Lord Lodovico's tablecloths once his guests have departed the dining hall I find myself surveying a scene of such utter mess and depravation -- resembling nothing so much as the aftermath of a battlefield [...] to discover an alternative. I have one already. I have in mind that everyone at table should be given their own cloth which, after soiling with their filthy hands and knives, they can
fold over so as not to desecrate the appearance of the table with their filths.  
</quote>

And our editors kindly supply the report from the Florentine Ambassador to Milan on the result of the introduction of individual cloths:

<quote>
And this last eve he produced at table his solution to it [the problem of the filthy tablecloth] and which was an individual cloth placed on the table in front of each guest and which he was meant to sully rather than the tablecloth. But, to Master Leonardo's agitation, none knew who to use it or what to do with it.  Some went to sit on it. Some to blow their noses in it. Some to throw playfully at each other. Yet others
to wrap up viands and secrete them to their pouch or pocket. And after the meal was finished, and the main tablecloth dirtied as ever before, Master Leonardo confided to me his his despair his invention would ne[v]er catch on. 
</quote>

-- 
Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance



--[9]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2009 08:08:36 +0000
        From: Ian Johnson <johnson at acl.arts.usyd.edu.au>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.407 devices prior to uses?
        In-Reply-To: <20091102075543.CADA240708 at woodward.joyent.us>


Intesting and I am sure you will find many examples.

The steam engine (originally for pumpiong water out of mines I think,
also used as an oscillating platform for moving up and down in a mine)

Radar valves, now used in microwaves, lasers and many other types of
valves and solid state devices.

Velcro (more of a blossoming), the internet (ditto)



========================================================

Ian Johnson

[johnson at acl.arts.usyd.edu.au]
 Skype: ian.johnson222
Director, Archaeological Computing Laboratory
Deputy Director, Digital Innovation Unit
Senior Research Fellow, Archaeology

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