The Fiske Studying System: The Nineteen Twenties Precursor to the Kindle


The Sony Librie, the primary e-reader to make use of a contemporary electronic-paper display, got here out in 2004. Outdated as this is in tech years, the elemental concept of a hand held instrument that may retailer huge quantities of textual content stretches no less than 8 a long time farther again in historical past. Witness the Fiske Studying System, an invention first profiled in a 1922 factor of Clinical American. “The tool, consisting of a tiny lens and a small curler for working this eyepiece up and down a vertical column of reading-matter, is a way in which bizarre typewritten reproduction, when photographically diminished to one-hundredth of the distance initially occupied, may also be learn with reasonably the ability that the influence of typical printing sort is now published to the unaided eye,” writes writer S. R. Winters.

Making books appropriate with the Fiske Studying System concerned no longer digitization, after all, however miniaturization. Consistent with the patents filed via inventor Bradley Allen Fiske (11 in all, between 1920 and 1935), the textual content of any e-book may well be photo-engraved onto a copper block, diminished ten instances within the procedure, after which revealed onto strips of paper to be used within the system, which might cause them to readable once more thru a magnifying lens. A unmarried magnifying lens, this is: “A blinder, hooked up to the system, may also be operated in obstructing the view of the unused eye.” (Winters provides that “the usage of each eyes will no doubt contain the development of a unit of the studying system extra elaborate than the prevailing design.”)

“Fiske believed he had single-handedly revolutionized the publishing business,” writes Engadget’s J. Rigg. “Due to his ingenuity, books and magazines may well be produced for a fragment in their present worth. The price of fabrics, presses, delivery and the load of garage is also slashed. He imagined magazines may well be dispensed via submit for subsequent to not anything, and maximum powerfully, that publishing in his structure would permit everybody get entry to to instructional subject material and leisure regardless of their stage of source of revenue.” Taking into consideration how the connection between readers and studying subject material in the long run developed, thank you to not copper blocks and magnifiers and tiny strips of paper however to computer systems and the web, it sort of feels that Fiske used to be a person forward of his time.

Alas, the Fiske Studying System itself used to be simply at the fallacious aspect of technological historical past. Whilst Fiske used to be refining its design, “microfilm used to be starting to catch on,” and “whilst it to begin with discovered its toes within the trade international — for preserving file of cancelled assessments, as an example — via 1935 Kodak had begun publishing The New York Occasions on 35mm microfilm.” In spite of absolutely the incidence that structure quickly attained on this planet of archiving, “the urge for food for miniaturized novels and hand held readers by no means materialized in the way in which Fiske had imagined.” Nor, without a doubt, may he have imagined the shape the virtual, electronic-paper-screened, and slender but vastly capacious shape that the e-reader must take ahead of discovering luck available on the market — but by some means with out reasonably displacing the paper e-book as even he knew it.

by the use of Engadget

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Based totally in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on towns, language, and tradition. His tasks come with the Substack publication Books on Towns, the e-book The Stateless Town: a Stroll thru Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Town in Cinema. Practice him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.



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