Monday, June 30, 2014

Day at the Lake

Today's picture shows people enjoying a day at the lake. The picture was taken at Lake Chautauqua in New York. It was made in 1908. Standards of dress and modesty have certainly changed in the last 100 years.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Golden Gate Park

Today's picture shows people enjoying a leisurely afternoon in Golden Gate park. in San Francisco. I really like how nicely people dressed back then, even to just go to the park. Golden Gate park is still open, and I don't think the park has changed much, but the crowd has.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


OK, it is summer time, so that means vacation! So this week will be vacation week. We will be looking at how people have spent their leisure time over the last 100 years. This picture from 1909 shows a woman enjoying some time in a canoe taking pictures.

I hope you will share some of your more memorable vacation moments this week.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Telephone Operators

High Tech week would not be complete without a look at the telephone. Today's picture shows the old telephone operators who would rout our phone calls back in the day. The technology has certainly advanced since this picture was taken in 1937. 

I can remember growing up our phone was a "party line" meaning we shared the line with other families on our rural road.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pneumatic Tubes

Today's picture shows a Pullman Porter receiving schedule information via Pneumatic Tubes. I dont know if you can remember this, but back in the day many buildings had these pneumatic tubes running through the building, and you could send things from place to place by putting them in small cylindrical containers, and then putting the container in the tube. I can remember department stores had them at the checkout and would send checks to a central office via the tubes. These are still in use at banks for the drive throughs, but I don't know of anywhere else that they are used.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Player Piano

I have enjoyed reading about your memories of Key Punch machines and Key Punching in the comments. It is interesting how many people used such machines. I find it fascinating to study the development of the computer. It is hard to really identify anyone who "invented" it, and in fact it it hard to really identify the first "computer". As we saw yesterday, the "tabulating machine" should probably not be considered a computer, but it certainly broke the ground for computer technology.

Another bit of early technology that I find fascinating is the Player Piano. I think that player pianos were in many ways paving the way for computers as well. The songs were encoded on rolls of paper, and the machine read the holes punched in the paper and played music. The one pictured above from 1915 not only played the piano, it also played the violin. To me these were in many ways like an early version of the computer . . . they would execute a sequence of steps by reading holes punched in a role of paper. If you look at the earliest examples of computing machines they had more in common with player pianos than the do with modern computers. Here is a modern video of a player like the one pictured still working today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tabulating Machine

I have enjoyed reading the comments the last few days, and have been surprised to see how many of you have actually used a computer key punch machine.

Today's picture is of a tabulating machine. It was not really a computer, but more of a counter. In the late 1800's and early 1900's completing the census was becoming an intractable problem. To help with this, the Tabulating Machine was developed. Each person's Census data was "key punched" into a card. The tabulating machine had electromechanical relays that could in effect do the counting for the census office. The technology developed for punching and reading the cards was critical in the development of functioning computers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Key Punch

In the early days of computers, computer terminals did not exist. You entered programs and data into computers via punched cards. Each card had one line of computer code. The picture above shows the key punch machines which were used to punch the holes in the cards. The blank cards are entered into the top of the machine, and as you type on the key board holes are punched into the cards. You end up with a stack of cards, and those cards are then run through the computers card reader to enter the program into the computer. These were still in use in the 1980's, and when I learned to program at the University of Texas, it was using card punch machines similar to the ones in this picture.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Today's picture shows the"Univac", which was a very early version of a computer. A Univac, along with its accessories could easily fill up a large room. In the early Univacs, the programs were loaded onto the computer via large spools of paper, and the paper had holes punched in it, reminiscent of the old player piano paper cartridges. Later, the paper rolls were replaced by magnetic tape, but even then the "readers" were enormous. The video clip below is an early newsreel describing these univac computers.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

High Technology

Welcome to High Technology Week here at OPOD, where we will look at cool and exciting technology developments over the last hundred years. We start with this picture from around 1920 showing a woman listening to a radio over headphones. As you can see, radios were huge back in the day. The radios amplified the signal coming from the antenna using Vacuum Tubes. These tubes were big, expensive, got very hot, and did not last very long, but they did enable people to have radios in their homes. I have heard of many people who got radios in their homes even before electricity. Some ran the radios on "Wind Chargers", which were generators with a propeller, and spun by the wind. Others kept an extra car battery to run the radio. Then each day, they would swap the batteries between the car and the radio. Driving to work would then recharge the battery.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Harbor at Hamburg Germany

We wrap up Sailing Ship week with this picture of ships in the harbor at Hamburg Germany. The picture was taken in 1900. I wonder how they brought ships like this in back in the days before tug boats.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ships in Harbor

Today's picture shows old sailing ships in the harbor. The picture was taken in Naples, Italy in 1900. The picture is so calm it almost looks like a painting.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Benjamin J. Packard

This is a picture of the ship Benjamin J. Packard as she looked in 1900. She continued in operation until 1932. I was surprised as to how late of dates these large sailing ships were still used commercially. Ships like this were still in use up until about 1957. One of the things that led to their ultimate demise was the relative complexity of sailing such a ship, and a shortage of trained officers to man a sailing ship.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sailing Ship

Today's picture shows a grand four mast sailing ship. The picture was taken in 1905. I wonder if this was a museum piece at that point, or if sailing ships were still in use?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hauling Water

Nomad Week continues here at OPOD with this picture of a young boy carrying water. The picture is from Uganda, and was taken in 1936. This is still a common site in Africa, as many people have to walk for miles to get to the nearest water.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bedouin Sheik

Today's picture features a Bedouin Sheik. The picture was taken near Beersheba in the Middle East. The land looks a little bit barren. I had never thought about this, but it looks like he rides the camel side-saddle. I wonder if this is the norm for camel riding?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bedouins in Iraq

Today's picture shows some nomadic bedouins in Iraq. The picture was taken near Kerbela in 1932.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kikay Tribe

Today we feature members of the Kikayu Tribe. The picture was taken in the early 1900's in East Africa. There are many people still living tribal lives like this in Africa today.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Afghan Bedouins

Today's picture shows Afghan Bedouins beside their tent. The picture was taken in 1920. From what I have heard things have not changed that much in many parts of Afghanistan since this picture was taken.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Welcome to Nomad Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at indigenous people living tribal lifestyles. We start with this picture of Zulu men. The picture was taken around 1920. Scenes like this can still be found in remote parts of Africa, where there are still people living nomadic and tribal lives.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Amazon Headhunters

OK, we had a few people comment yesterday on the picture of the Cheyenne indicating that they did not look like they were ready for battle. So, today I give you the Amazon Headhunters. I would suggest that no one would want to venture into these guys' territory in the rain forest. The picture was taken around 1900.