London Sounds, 1928


From the incredible London Sound Survey:

THERE ARE NO BBC radio recordings surviving from before 1931, so the job of representing the 1920s falls to this curiosity from the Columbia Graphophone Company. It’s a 12” 78rpm disc made in 1928 in association with the Daily Mail newspaper. It seems likely that the disc was somehow tied in with a Daily Mail campaign over urban traffic noise. The commentator on both sides of the disc is a man named Commander Daniel and he doesn’t approve of everything he hears in the city streets. The recordings were made from single, static locations in Leicester Square and Beauchamp Place on Tuesday 11th and Thursday 20th September respectively. Columbia probably used a recording van equipped with a disc-cutter.

The Leicester Square recording features hammering sounds from a building site, the repeated cry of Post! from a newspaper boy, the honking of car horns and the passing of horse-drawn and motor vehicles…

Commander Daniel warms to his task of identifying noise nuisances: “That was a large lorry with building materials, very noisy. There’s a motor bicycle without a proper silencer!”


Alexis Madrigal in the Atlantic on why no soundscapes recordings before the 1920s:

It wasn’t until the 1920s, Barton said, that microphones were developed. They could electronically amplify sounds and enabled the recording of soundscapes. From the very first, film could be used as a documentary device, easily recording ambient scenes. Sound recording, on the other hand, required performance for its first 50 years.

This timeline, when you match it up with other technological changes, has some very important consequences.

There will always be a large gap between our visual and audio historical records. Decades when we can see our places, but not hear them. We will never know what New York, Los Angeles, or any other city sounded like before the automobile hit the streets and electricity was commonplace.

Some things, like what it sounded like for a million Americans to live together without internal combustion engines on wheels, can be lost forever.

HT: Brian Dooley

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“Silicon Valley” First Appeared in Print on January 10, 1971


“It was only by a quirk of fate, however, coupled by lack of management foresight, that Boston failed to become the major semiconductor center San Francisco is today.” Don Hoefler, “Silicon Valley, USA,” Electronic News, January 11, 1971

Source: Computer History Museum

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Claude Shannon and the Invention of Digital

The Man Who Turned Paper Into Pixels from Delve on Vimeo.


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The Internet is Coming to NPR



Source: “If We’d Only Known About The Impending Spam

HT: “Dawn of the Web: an oral history


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The Uses of the Telegraph



Source: Derby Railway Station

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The Internet of Things is coming – Philip K. Dick, 1969

Originally posted on flycz:

Philip K. Dick, Ubik (1969):

Back in the kitchen he fished in his various pockets for a dime, and, with it, started up the coffeepot. Sniffing the — to him — very unusual smell, he again consulted his watch, saw that fifteen minutes had passed; he therefore vigorously strode to the apt door, turned the knob and pulled on the release bolt.

The door refused to open. It said, ‘Five cents, please.’

He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. ‘I’ll pay you tomorrow,’ he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. ‘What I pay you ,’ he informed it, ‘is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.’

‘I think otherwise,’ the door said. ‘Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.’

In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had…

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The Internet of Things is coming — Woody Allen, 1968

Originally posted on flycz:

Woody Allen, “Mechanical Objects”, San Francisco, August 1968:

About three years ago I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was home one night. I called a meeting with my posessions. I got everything I owned into the living room. My toaster, my clock, my blender. They never been in the living room before. And I spoke to them. I opened with a joke. And then I said “I know what’s going on, and cut it out!” I have a sun lamp, but as I sit under it, it rains on me. And I spoke to each appliance, I was really articulate. Then I put them back, and I felt good. Two nights later I’m watching my portable television set, and the set begins to jump up and down, and I go up to it. And I always talk before I hit, and I said “I thought we had discussed this…

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