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Volume 1464a

Part of our ERB Connections Series
Pt. IV: Great Prophet In Christmas Cards

.Hugo Gernsback, the remarkable man 
with a phenomenal seeing-eye into the future
By Clark Kinnaird ~ Pennsylvania Gettysburg Times ~ 1965.12.23
Perhaps the most unusual Christmas greeting mailed each season comes from the office in New York of a man who is as fascinating as he is widely unknown," said an editorial in a newspaper whose attention thousands of internationally important persons seek, The Washington Post.

The reference was to Hugo Gernsback, who began in 1936 distributing a Christmas greeting in the form of a miniature magazine. As the years passed and the remarkable foresight of Mr. Gernsback was proven over and over, the greetings were eagerly and respectfully awaited annually by an elite list of great physicists, engineers, chemists, and other men of science around the world. Consequently, so many request came in to be on the Christmas list of the man the London press hailed as "the worlds greatest science prophet" that he had to limit the quantity and refuse pleas for back numbers.

Hugo Gernsback with his Teleyeglasses designed in 1936.Gernsback visualized in his 1953 Christmas greeting an era when persons insured choices of compatible partners for marital happiness, by measurement of the SQ (sex quotient) through reactions to projections of various scenes.

Gernsback was "widely unknown" only to non-readers during the last fifty years of (his long list of magazine publications). He offered one of the first radio receivers for sale to the public. He founded the first magazine devoted to radio technology. He was the founder of the first Wireless Association for experimenters and "hams." The trophy most prized by writers of "Science-fiction" is called the "Hugo" in tribute to the acknowledged "Father of Science-fiction." Gernsback was editor and publisher of the first magazines in the world devoted to this 20th Century literary genre.

Gernsback, a native of Luxembourg, who was educated in Europe, moved to New York to set up Electro Importing Co. while Marconi was still trying to establish the first trans-atlantic wireless circuit.

Long before wall-cabinet TV appeared, Gernsback Christmas greeting had this peeping-Tom eyeview into the future.

No comprehensive history of radio or television, or of other aspects of electronics could begin without use of Gernsback publications and and notes of his personal experimentations as basic source materials. Typically, as one researcher found, the first "standard broadcast station to transmit a television image was Hugo Gernsback's station WRNY, in New Jersey, which on Aug. 18, 1928, transmitted a square image of the face of Mrs. John Geleso, which was viewed at New York University by 500 persons." Four years earlier, Gernsback had described an eventual development , a "Radio-controlled Television Airplane" equipped to provide its ground control with sight east, west, north, sough, up and down, for directing and releasing of selected targets.

He predicted the use of TV in medical diagnosis, in industry and in scores of other ways. 

How Gernsback envisioned watch-like radio in 1944. To tune, just pull out stem, and rotate to desired channel.Gernsback prophetic picture of sleep-instruction in the future, via machine.

The revolutionary discovery that a person can be taught while asleep was reported by the American Association for Advancement of Science in 1965. Fifty-four years earlier Gernsback was laying the foundation of an international reputation as "the world's greatest scientific prophet" with such graphic forecasts of the future as this electronic device of imparting knowledge to individuals under induced hypnosis or sleep. The same year, 1911, he described and pictured a "Teleshot," or Picturephone that became reality in 1954. Naturally, Gernsback fostered formation in 1930 of the earliest interplanetary society (later the American Rocket Society), and published the first journal devoted to space conquest (now entitles Jet Propulsion). He conceived of orbiting man-carrying space stations in 1929. 

Space walkers? Gernsback had this visualization of them, in 1929, as repairmen of space ship that had retractable wings.Orbitting solar-power in 1929 Gernsback publication was first American illustration of a man-carrying satellite.

And looking Ahead. . .
You'll be seeing anybody by phone in color!

Beyond the Picturephone, which was introduced commercially in 1964, or 53 years after he designed a Telephone, Hugo Gernsback was to predict "Language rectified telephony," with an electronic translator enabling persons to speak in different languages to each other without difficulty. 

A few other previews of what's ahead given by gernsback in his unique Christmas greeting forecasts: Nation-wide pipeline networks distributing water from desalinization plants situated along coasts. Satellites transmitting solar energy to power-lines on earth, Computerized electronic diagnoses that end all guesswork in medical practice. Electronic "hurricane killers," Automated fisheries, with intake pipes sunk at the continental shelf offshore bringing fish and plankton to processing plants inland. There will be two-fold solutions to urban traffic jams: Narrow, two-wheel, gyro-cars, and airfoil or retractable-wing autos that can literally fly! It'd take a book to detail all Gernsback's remarkable prophecies year after year. His soundest prophecy, he indicated in a repeated admonition: "Never forget for an instant that all man's greatest inventions are still to come."

Frank R. Paul (1884-1963) put Gernsback ideas in artwork for 49 years.In 1915, Gernsback forecast fast-moving atomic guns as devastating weapons in future warfare.Airlines have followed Gernsback idea, in 1951 Christmas greeting forecast, of retractable shelterways at terminals.

Karel Capak is immortalized by the term "robot" which he coined in 1920 from the Slav term robato for work. Capek wrote a popular international play R.U.R about artificial men put into mass production and sold as workers and soldiers. But in 1913, Gernsback had "Automatic Soldiers' engaged in future wars controlled by radio from military hq. In 1924, Gernsback had similar "Radio Police Automatons" moving on tank-like feet and spraying tear-gas to quell riots. But Gernsback has never suggested that machines can replace men in all respects. "Computers cannot think like a living brain. 

"No computer could write like Shakespeare." 

Gernsback was also to foresee atomic rays as direct defense means. In 1953 Christmas greeting he visualized atomic curtains being shot up as shields against enemy squadrons carrying atomic bombs in an attack.

Glimpse of Life on the Planet Mars
By Hal Boyle
Council Bluffs, Iowa Nonpareil 1949.12.22
New York AP -- Want to know what life is like on the planet Mars? Well, it's a place where:
The women rule, but husbands sometimes win their way by going on sex strikes. The inhabitants live 3,000 to 5,000 years, and one wife just got her 129th divorce. The population is limited to two billion scientifically bred Martians, and the ladies must await their turn to have children. A famous Martian actress recently gave birth to her first child at the age of 2,500 years.

No Traffic Jams
Martians live in a vast underground city a mile below the cold surface of the planet. There are no traffic jams. Travel is by transparent vehicles that neutralize gravitation. There has been no crime for 950 million years. Water is the most precious commodity, and the last criminal was a man who violated the planet rule against taking more than one bath in a month. His punishment: He was disintegrated.

This picture of life on Mars is given in a tabloid Christmas magazine issued every year -- all in fun -- by Dr. Hugo Gernsback, publisher of Science Fiction. The 1949 edition, called "Quip," chronicles the adventures of a mythical explorer named Grego Banshuck, who landed on Mars last October in a space ship. You don't have to believe in explorer Banshuck anymore than you believe in Santa Claus, but it's some world he says he found on Mars.

People 10 Feet Tall
The people are 10 feet tall. Because of the low gravity and thin air of the red planet, they have big flat webbed feet, thin and fragile arms and legs, a barrel chest and a huge head with a brain 9 1/2 times that of a human being. They communicate by thought instead of by voice. Because the air doesn't carry scent well they have developed a long nose like the trunk of an elephant.

Their thoughts are exchanged by long telepathic antennas, growing from their heads. A male has two, a female four. "The double antennas allow her to double-talk better," a Martian quipped to the explorer. "This confuses the male better too."

Sometimes the Martian male rebels against being ladybossed. "The males go on strike en masse -- millions of them  refuse to make love to their wives," reported Banshuck. "The last 'sex strike' 14 years ago, involving over 2,500,000 males, lasted five-and-one-half years. The males won!"

But Mars is no place for a bachelor. The girls do the courting there -- what's so different about that?  -- and the man of her choice can't refuse her unless he is already married. The explorer said the inhabitants don't like or trust the human race and regard them as culturally and intellectually retarded.

Rat's Instinct
"The earthlings have the rat's instincts," one Martian columnist remarked. It is doubtful whether the average man of earth, however, would want to trade places. Martians according to Banshuck, eat synthetic food, never sleep, and are put to death -- all except the great leaders -- at the age of 3,000. Outstanding Martians are allowed to live to 5,000.

One feature of Martian life, on the other hand, might appeal to earthy bureaucrats. Banshuck discovered the planet is ruled by a conclave of five women, each of whom is elected at the age of 2,000 and remains in power until death. This gives her 1,000 years in public office!

Hugo Gernsback Forecast 1954
Pennsylvania Pottstown Mercury ~ 1953.12.28

Forecast -- For many years (the author says "in spite of all," he has been doing it since 1908) this column has received an annual Christmas card from Hugo Gernsback, New York publisher. It's always in the form of a pocket sized booklet, usually contains 32 pages, and always is a forecast for the coming year. 

This year, in his "Forecast 1954," Gernsback says the first atom-powered space ship will take off for the moon in 1970. In Forecast 1954, Gernsback outlines in etail the first flight to the moon in a television-guided spaceship which will be unmanned. 

Completely outfitted with a unique television transmitter, it will relay to earth all the sights, sounds and experiences humans might undergo on that epic flight. This first flight will be teh forerunner of manned ships of the future, he says.

Predictions With Greeting Cards
By Hal Boyle: Wisconsin Stevens Point Daily Journal ~ 1955.12.13

New York -(AP) - Year after year Hugo Gernsback probably puts out the most unusual Christmas cards in America. Each year they contain predictions by Gernsback, publisher of the magazine "Radio-Electronics," on how life will be lived in the future.

Some years his forecasts are pretty eerie. This year they are weirder than weird. If Gernsback is even half-right, the average man will probably be glad he lives in the present -- and that the next century will be up to posterity to endure. 

Take the matter of transportation. Glancing into his crystal ball, Gernsback sees the "air-mobile" as the only final answer to today's traffic problem.  Motorists will zoom through the skies in small gravity-resistant cars propelled by compressed air. "All-around radar will make collisions in the air almost an impossibility," he adds.

Are you worried about where you will be buried? Gernsback is. He fears the earth soon will be too crowded for cemeteries. 
But he has an answer -- space burials. Coffins containing the dead will be taken up into outer space by flying funerary ships. At the proper altitude the ships will discharge their cargo in a direction away from the sun. Frozen snug in your casket, you will then soar out of the pattern of the solar system -- and sail on forever in space. Gernsback sees this as the most practical way a man can "go to heaven." Anybody want to be first?

But to the ordinary mortal the most dismal innovation envisioned by Gernsback is a gadget he calls "electronics-perceptor."
Like most people he has pondered the mystery of sex, and has decided, "sex is a complex electrical phenomenon." Well, it certainly is complex, sometimes it does produce sparks and there is no doubt it is quite a phenomenon.  Gernsback feels that as science learns more about sex it will produce the "electromicro-perceptor," or sex measurer. By undergoing tests with this machine couples will supposedly be able to determine whether they will be compatible in marriage, at least in terms of physical responses.

It may well be that Gernsback is right about the bright future of the airmobile, space burials and the electronized brain. But will any man in his right mind ever come home to a wife who keeps an "electromicro-perceptor" in the house? I doubt it.

The Things To Come
Ohio Zanesville Times Recorder ~ 1959.12.18

Maybe you never heard of Hugo Gernsback. We never did, until his unique Christmas greeting, called Forecast 1960, reached us the other day.
Gernsback, editor and publisher of Radio-Electronics Magazine has quite a reputation, we understand, for his predictions of things to come.

In his latest glimpse into the crystal ball, Gernsback comes up with the forecast that the first manned spaceship will not reach the moon and return intact to earth until 1980. And he sees some lush accommodations at the moon's hotels with underground gardens providing fresh vegetables for the guests. 

He ventures a little far afield in one of his predictions, development of what he terms Cephalotaph. It is for those who prefer to have the remains of their loved ones fully preserved. He foresees an electroplated head of the deceased which will last more than 10,000 years.

Then there's the Odorchestra for scented concerts. Varying odors would be loosed in the theater to complement the music. This, he reasons, would call another sense into play with the blending and changing of a color score shown on a big curved screen.

Finally, he predicts a purely synthetic tobacco -- less solid cigarette without paper, tar or nicotine. It will be cheaper than today's smokes. 

Some of Gernsback's forecasts leave us a little cold, but we do find solace in one respect. He made no mention of new tools designed to destroy all of mankind.

Washington Notebook: Forecast 1961
by Inez Robb ~ Kansas Great Bend Daily Tribune ~ 1960.12.30

Over the years two small publications have brought joy to me during the holiday season. They are "The Old Farmer's Almanac" and "Forecast" by Hugo Gernsback.

Gernsback is noted as the "Father of Science Fiction" in which he has been a foremost practitioner for more than 50 years. What particularly distinguishes Gernsback, however, is that so many of the products of his imagination or crystal ball have become fact in his lifetime. So his annual forecast is not lightly dismissed. Indeed, during the present holiday season, his "Forecast 1961" hs been better than tranquilizers. Until it arrived I had been sunk in melancholia induced by too much indiscriminate reading. 

Shortly before Christmas I read in "The Insider's Newsletter," a portentous pamphlet for an insider's insides, that the "Air Force has fought the next war on computers and concluded that with our present city-destruction strategy, we can't win."

If that isn't sufficient to take the curl out of your permanent, what is? But that was only the beginning don't want to reduce others to my gelatinous state, so I shall spare you the gloom-and-doom statistics that made me doubt Santa Claus.

However, I must offer one more sentence in evidence, to wit: "AF pumped every conceivable combination of weapons and situations into the computers and it always came out a U.S. loss." (And a Happy New Year to you, too, "Insider's Newsletter"!)

Even after I wired my Congressman to buy new computers for the Air Force, no amount of knitting could mend the ravelled sleeve of care. Nor was this all. In another publication, several scientists warned us earthlings that we must be prepared for the discovery of other intelligent beings in space. In addition, they advised if  the intelligent beings out yonder are more civilized than we, then we must reconcile ourselves to the collapse of our world. That's the way the mop always flops, the scientists said, when superior and inferior intelligences collide.

Is it any wonder that in recent days I have kept looking over my shoulder to see which is gaining on me fastest: computers or space commuters. Then, in the nick of time to save my fingernails, the Gernsback forecast arrived and banished the bogey men and machines. Far from annihilation in a decade or so, Gernsback looks 100 years into the future and sees a world of peace and plenty, and a hearty handshake all around the universe.

Air Force computers or no, Martians, Orson Welles or not, Gernsback forecasts a world relieved of the threat of nuclear destruction. In 2061 the only wars will be technical-economic ones, under the benign guidance of a United World Government.

English will be the universal legal language, which means we have headed off the Russians in at least that direction. The world's population will be stabilized, by simple scientific means, at six billion persons. The moon will be made livable by 1990.

A hundred years from now, man's unwanted hereditary diseases and defects will be banished by simple injections into the blood stream. Night will be no more, having been banished by artificial hydrogen-reaction sun-clusters stationed 22,000 miles above the equator. Even they will b e turned off every night for three hours to oblige astronomers (and, presumably, sundodgers, smochers, and muggers). Crops will be tripled; hurricanes and tornadoes banished.

Who needs machine-made predictions when man can still dream. 

The Edgar Rice Burroughs / Hugo Gernsback Connection
The Connection: Intro & Bio
Bibliography & Themes
Gernsback Clippings
Hugo's Annual Forecasts
Paul Art for Master Mind
Gernsback Publications
Cover Art Galleries
Master Mind C.H.A.S.E.R.
1. Electrical Experimenter
2. Science and Invention I
3. Science and Invention II
4. Miscellaneous Covers

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