What is it that’s so satisfying, but also kind of forlorn, about old versions of the future? Boing Boing ran this 1931 ad via Modern Mechanix that boasts of the ease with which a farmer could milk a cow by radio control. Of course, they have gigantic milking machines now, but somehow the simplicity of the “five-food length of copper” is more attractive. Plus, they probably have wires attached, so this is actually more advanced. Sort of.
THERE seems to be no end to the versatility of radio in these days of electrical and mechanical miracles—not even cows and street cars are immune to the influences of its radiations. As a curtain raiser at the annual radio show held recently in St. Louis, a street car was operated from a distance by a mere man with a radio transmitter in his hand, and a Holstein cow was made to dispense her milk by the medium of radio waves, whether she liked it or not.
The mechanism of the trolley car and the mechanism of the milking machine were hooked up to a specially constructed radio receiver using only a five-foot length of copper pipe as an antenna. At a distance stood the operator, holding a portable radio transmitter using a similar antenna, as shown in the accompanying photos. When the key was pressed at the transmitter, the distant receiver in both cases set the machines to operating.
Miraculous radio-controlled milking-machine of 1931 [Boing Boing]
Radio Milks Cows, Runs Street Cars (Feb., 1931) [Modern Mechanix]