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The Media Science

Popular Science Frees Its 137-Year Archives 135

Posted by kdawson
from the whole-lotta-rocket-ships dept.
DesScorp writes "Popular Science magazine has scanned every issue they've ever produced, and posted the archives at their website, at no charge. 'We've partnered with Google to offer our entire 137-year archive for free browsing. Each issue appears just as it did at its original time of publication, complete with period advertisements. It's an amazing resource that beautifully encapsulates our ongoing fascination with the future, and science and technology's incredible potential to improve our lives. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.'" First search: the history of the flying car.
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Popular Science Frees Its 137-Year Archives

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  • Kudos to them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mangu (126918) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:51PM (#31383796)

    This makes me seriously consider getting a subscription to their dead tree version again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If we had sane copyright laws, most of the issues would already be in the public domain. However, I still see this is a major gesture of support for free culture.

      I only buy books and music from authors who publish for free online.

      Maybe I should extend the same policy towards zines?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If we had sane copyright laws, most of the issues would already be in the public domain.

        Even if they were, that doesn't necessarily mean they'd be easily available. It's not much use being legally allowed to do whatever you like with the material if you can't get hold of it in the first place.

        • If it were in the public domain, someone would have collected it and put it online. Google Books comes to mind.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mysidia (191772)

          Huh? Copyright is what prevents you from making it available or getting ahold of it in the first place.

          Copyright enforcers find unauthorized or unapproved sources and shut them down, so you can't get the material

          If it became public domain, there's little doubt someone would have an archive and be able to make that available, esp. if someone, some time would be willing to pay.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JustOK (667959)

        I only buy books and music from authors who publish for free online.

        Maybe I should extend the same policy towards zines?

        How much do you pay for that free stuff?

    • Foresight (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheMeuge (645043) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:58PM (#31383868)

      This shows good sense on the part of the publications' editors and executives. There isn't much market for 130 past years of Popular Science. Bandwidth is cheap. Certainly making this move will get them brownie points. Brownie points mean good press. Brownie points mean more hits on their site... as does the actual archive. More hits on their website + good public image = guaranteed increase in subscriptions. Everyone wins.

      • Re:Foresight (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:39PM (#31384198)

        Not much market? Hell, if you want to see what popular culture is like in certain times, magazines like this one is a treasure! Check out the magazines of the 30s (depression era), 40s (war era), 50s (cold war introduction)... you just have to read between the lines and you see a wealth of information. The ads alone are a rich source of the mindset of the time.

        • by AuMatar (183847)

          Market != value. Not much market means very few people would want to buy one (and most of those who do want one that's 50 years old, not a modern reprint). That doesn't mean there's no value to it, as you point out there's high value to historians and sociologists.

        • I first discovered this archive a few days ago when I was reading about prohibition [slashdot.org]. A bit dry for my taste.

        • by Zerth (26112)

          One of my grandparents got me a set of Weekly Readers [wikipedia.org] from the years covering WWII. It was fascinating reading the kind of stuff they gave kids back then. The ads were hilarious, both for pricing and their writing compared to modern ads, and the articles ranged from funny to scary in their datedness and propaganda.

      • Re:Foresight (Score:4, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @07:04PM (#31384336) Homepage

        Bandwidth is cheap.

        Especially if Google provides it, as in this case.

      • by IdleTime (561841)
        But the solution is ridiculous.

        I did some searches and found it returned hits which when clicked showed the front page of the issue the search word was found in and then you have to wade through to the correct page and use a crappy magnifying glass to read with. What a waste of time and energy gone into this nonsense.

        I can truly say I will never use this feature.
    • by Skater (41976)
      I'm glad they're doing this. I've been a subscriber for a long time and had quite a few back issues. Recently I decided that it wasn't worth keeping them (along with a couple other magazines) and have been slowly recycling them. It's freeing up a lot of space for books and just reducing general clutter.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:54PM (#31383824)
    This should be tagged as sudden outbreak of common sense. The entire point of organized science is to let anyone read, comment and improve upon various theories and publications in science.
  • I now have a desire to subscribe to Popular Science. I may do so in the coming months.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, but you won't. I can guarantee it. People are much more apt to bitch and moan, and less apt to actually act.

      • Seeing as how I already have subscriptions to several other magazines, I likely will. I didn't know we were acquainted, Mr. AC. How can you make guarantees without even knowing me?
      • Your guarantee has just been nullfied as of 8 minutes ago when I ordered two subscribtions to myself and my brother.

        Yes. We will and your cynicism has just be broken.
    • by jonnat (1168035)

      I now have a desire to subscribe to Popular Science. I may do so in the coming months.

      That's right, wait a few months. No one should make the life-changing decision of spending $12 for the one-year subscription in the heat of the moment.

  • Download version? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iampiti (1059688)
    I've taken a look and while it's very nice they put the issues online It'd be nice if you could download them. I haven't found an obvious way to do it. I guess that's the way the google displayed books work
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      First, click the link to go to the books.google.com view of the article. Then click the "full screen" button. Then use a utility like ScrapBook Plus (for Firefox... there are others around for other browsers) to save the whole thing.
    • Oops! No, that didn't work after all. I will try a few other things.
    • Yes, I did find a way but I don't want to advertise it here. If you are a bit clever you can find the images the browser is showing.
    • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @08:57PM (#31385122) Homepage

      > It'd be nice if you could download them.

      If you are viewing them you already have downloaded them: they're right there on your computer. You just haven't figured out how to save them to disk.

      • > It'd be nice if you could download them.

        If you are viewing them you already have downloaded them: they're right there on your computer. You just haven't figured out how to save them to disk.

        Actually, you have figured out how to save them to disk; you just may not know where they are. ;-)

      • by iampiti (1059688)
        Well, I already knew that. The pages might be downloaded as image files on the browser's cache or they might be only on its memory or whatever...but what I meant is that they don't seem to provide an easy and/or obvious way to get the content downloaded to a file on your pc. I just wanted a "Download this issue" button.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    article that was on the cover of one of my father's Pop Sci's from the 60s - can't find it.

    It sucks! I need those plans for my do-it-yourself-on-a-budget-evil-genius-lair-secret-submarines type of stuff. Pop Sci had GREAT articles on James Bond gadgets and things! BUT nothing on hiring henchmen and getting really hot chicks who are willing to walk around half naked and sleep with you until the English secret agent sweeps them off their feet - which isn't a problem because it saves me the time of dumping the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      Maybe it was Popular Mechanics in which you remember the roll-your-own sub. I've mixed up memories that I thought were ironclad from several decades ago.

      • by KuNgFo0 (519426)
        Could this be it? [google.com]

        By the way, looks like all of the Popular Mechanics issues are on Google Books, too. I had no idea, looks like I'll be killing a few weekends digging through all this great stuff :)

        • by Tablizer (95088)

          That poor dude looks cramped as shit. "Build your own sardine can and lock yourself in".

      • by t_ban (875088)

        My toilet baroque; it's all Bach'd up despite jiggling the Handel.

        are you trying to parody horridly unfunny sigs or something?

  • LIFE Magazine Also? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hduff (570443) <hoytduff AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:01PM (#31383900) Homepage Journal
    I remember reading through all the bound volumes of Life Magazine in-between classes as an undergrad. That gave me a better sense of 20th century American history than anything I ever read in grade school. It would be wonderful for Time-Life to do the same as Popular Science.
  • The 1933 article on flying cars is wonderful. The article describes the general plan for a flying car infrastructure - using a lot of rubber - for flying cars - which use steam power. I would love to know what ever happened to these plans because it sounds like a sure thing from the tone of the article.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      The articles tend to hype stuff and leave out or fail to check for a lot of impracticalities. Few would buy the mag if they were quick to dent dreams. Current IT magazines do the same, and PHB's believe it and force their staff to adopt Agile Goat-Assisted Blindfolded Underwater Programming, etc. After 137 years, nothing's changed.

    • by red456 (1760250)
      i searched for 'atom' and the first article was from the early 50s envisaging the first atomic planes (which will be ready by 1960 - and atomic jets by 1980). they'll transmit power by pumping liquid metal to the propellors - and thus will have to be drained at the end of flight. flying wings as well. simply incredible
  • ....at least for more recent issues, and in a less clunky downloadable form. Of course there is that small issue of legality but when are people going to learn that horrible searchable online interfaces really don't give you any advantage (EXCEPT the ability to pull access).

    Sorry but I'm just not so easily impressed.

  • I lost absolutely any remaining respect for Pop Sci when they posted "The Man Who Was Allergic to Radio Waves" on their front page.
    Absolutely no testing, research, or proof about this man's fantastic story wasn't just all in his head (which it is).

    Shame on you Pop Sci. I used to subscribe to this crap.

    • I agree they had a crappy editor so I did not renew last year. However, how do YOU know it is all in his head? Are you saying there is no way on earth that it could be based on something real? Science is not perfect, the whole world has believed things that eventually science was able to prove earlier science wrong.

  • The period ads (Score:5, Informative)

    by istartedi (132515) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:31PM (#31384134) Journal

    I bet the period advertisements alone will be priceless.

    As much as we hate advertising on the web, there is definitely something to be said for ads as a window into history.

    With so much content being dynamicly generated, we won't have period ads like we did with print.

    Embedded advertising could solve this, and it wouldn't be a problem if it were done as still images and text analagous to a printed ad. Of course, online advertisers seem to have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot in this regard--the temptation to introduce obtrusive ads just ups the ante in the arms race.

    Reading ads from pop sci might tell you that Ford has been in business for over 100 years. Reading web pages archived from today will tell you nothing of the sort. The ad will either be fetched and dynamicly generated (and thus be non-period) or it will be edited out by the archiver.

    • 5 years ago I scored 100's of NG magazine from CL for free dating back to the 60's. I love going through them (still am) and finding out about electronics/cars I never knew existed.
      • by fm6 (162816)

        You can get every single issue [britannicastore.com] on DVD for about $80. If I'd had that set when I was a kid...

        As for the Popular Science archive: the mind simply boggles. Geek heaven!

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          Interesting... did you buy it? Am wondering about the format used, if it's searchable or indexed by issue/year, and whether it insists on installing DRM or some such nonsense. Doesn't seem like a bad deal otherwise, and certainly more space-effective than all that paper... tho not as handy for portable reading, obviously.

          • by fm6 (162816)

            Naw, I'm not into that thing anymore. I doubt that it's searchable beyond article titles (if that). Digitizing that much text would be way too expensive. Only Google, which can use its huge ad revenues to subsidize all kind of unprofitable project, can afford to do things like that.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Interesting... did you buy it? Am wondering about the format used, if it's searchable or indexed by issue/year, and whether it insists on installing DRM or some such nonsense. Doesn't seem like a bad deal otherwise, and certainly more space-effective than all that paper... tho not as handy for portable reading, obviously.

            Well, the DRM is that it's only readable by the Adobe Air application it's written in, but there is functionality to copy the DVD to a hard disk so you can read it without swapping DVDs.

            It'

            • by Reziac (43301) *

              Thanks for the info. Yeah, I'd be price-shopping if I decide to buy it... once in a while this sort of thing comes into Sam's Club or Costco too, at about half retail. I'll keep an eye out. :)

    • by allan_q (561224)

      As much as we hate advertising on the web, there is definitely something to be said for ads as a window into history.

      It's definitely a window into history. 10 years ago you could use ordinary batteries [google.com] in your cell phones. You don't see these ads anymore.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        As much as we hate advertising on the web, there is definitely something to be said for ads as a window into history.

        It's definitely a window into history. 10 years ago you could use ordinary batteries in your cell phones. You don't see these ads anymore.

        Hell, I saw those things 15+ years ago. While not exactly a cellphone powered by ordinary batteries, it was a battery case that held ordinary batteries you could use instead of your recharable battery. Meant for emergency use, and back in the days of AMPS w

  • by Anonymous Coward

    was a 1974 cover of... Popular *Mechanics*, with an illustration of a Moller M400 taking off from someone's driveway.

  • A nice start (Score:3, Informative)

    by houghi (78078) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:34PM (#31384156)

    But all you can do now is do a search. Only then you can select something you found and browse the magazine. It would be nice to be able to go to a certain issue and start browsing.
    And all they need to do is index the IDs.

  • by physburn (1095481)
    A good ammount for scientists to celebrate, its the inverse of the fine structure constant, the strength of the electromagnetism. History of Science [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]
  • Breakthroughs (Score:5, Informative)

    by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @07:04PM (#31384330)

    Relativity: June, 1914, page 434 [popsci.com]
    Quantum mechanics: February 1927, page 22 [popsci.com]
    Atomic bomb: October 1945, page 80 [popsci.com]
    Integrated circuits: September 1966, page 96 [popsci.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Threni (635302)

      A breakthrough would be the ability to download the whole thing and flick through them at my leisure, rather than this bizarre `search for a keyword` nonsense.

    • by lawpoop (604919)
      The article on Relativity describes the ether as an 'imaginary medium' on page 2. I didn't know that the reality of ether was suspect at the time. My education in the history of science up until this point was misleading :)
      • The author attacks Einstein for

        abandon[ing] the hypothesis of an ether without furnishing a satisfactory substitute for this hypothesis. As has been previously stated, the very experiment which the relativity theory seeks to explain depends on interference phenomena which are only satisfactorily accounted for on the the hypothesis of an ether

        source [popsci.com]

        For a different perspective, try Ether and the Theory of Relativity [st-and.ac.uk]

    • Maybe it's just my browser, but I tried a few of those links and they don't go to articles about what is mentioned. One was about preventing your car from rusting, and another about cars too. Oh well.
  • Excellent service! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by froogger (695841)
    I particularly like that they hyperlinked the split articles for ease of reading. Remember when magazines used to have a "(Continued on page 80)" at the end? Well, they've thought of that, and kudos for the extra effort!
  • As nice as this is, I would be so much more excited if the owners of rights to Popular Electronics [wikipedia.org] did this.

    • I'll second your wish for Popular Electronics, although I think that Radio-Electronics was a better magazine.
  • Forget flying cars, where's my fusion reactor?: Can We Harness Nuclear Fusion in the '70s? [popsci.com]

  • Lets hope other magazines follow suit with their 'archives'. Now i can finally get rid of my 10 boxes of old PS paper copies.

  • More specifically, search for Paul Moller [popsci.com].

    July 1967 [google.com]

    If you have the urge to make like a Martian, you may get your wish. This is the goal of Paul S. Moller, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, who wants to develop low-cost ($4,000 and up) flying saucers for personal transportation. After installing new engines in his first machine [PS, July '66], Moller recently made a series of successful test flights a few feet off the ground. With a second, eight-foot-diamete

  • Garbage! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I don't want to search, I want to download them all as PDFs, where is that option, nowhere?

    You need javascript and/or plugins enabled? GARBAGE! I want them in a format I can download and share, since they are free, right?

    Why do people insist upon over complicating every little thing! Just make them available for download and worry about searching through them later. Or is this about AD revenue?

    You will not suck my e-tits for revenue, forget you!

  • I've got to go back and hunt down the issue about the Russians having a Nuclear Powered Airplane, and that we were going to have our own in 18 months.
  • How many issues of Popular Science predict that a renaissance in blimp transport will happen "soon"? Seriously, it seems like they have posted the same article every year for the past 70 years or so.

  • 40 years ago GM debuted a working plug-in hybrid... according to the magazine, the engineers were "not waiting for a breakthrough" and it "could be built today."
    WTF happened???
    http://www.popsci.com/archive-viewer?id=FyoDAAAAMBAJ&pg=86&query=hybrid [popsci.com]
  • by marciot (598356) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @03:21AM (#31387340)

    Oh how things have changed. The first issue from May 1872 has 128 pages of closely packed text and only a few scattered illustrations. I wonder if all magazines were like that in 1872 -- I get the impression that Playboy magazine wouldn't have been much fun back then.

  • If you browse too many issues too quickly (I was using thumbnail view to quickly look for ads and articles I remember from reading my dad's subscription in the late 70s/early 80s) you'll encounter this:

    We're sorry... ... but your computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now.

    Why they (google) don't display a captcha when you get to that point is beyond me. It seems silly to make thousands of magazines available with thumbnail views of ent

  • I've always enjoyed Discover Magazine more than PopSci or PopMech. While the latter have more fantastic and sensational pictures, I like the more detailed articles and writing style of Discover... I'd almost liken it to the difference between Time magazine vs. US News & World Report (OK, maybe not THAT bad, but it feels like that sometimes).

    http://discovermagazine.com/ [discovermagazine.com]
    The archives only go back a few decades, so not as much historical interest as PopSci's archives. But my world view was probably mor

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