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The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California, June 12, 1940

Sparko was one half of the robot team built by the

Westinghouse Electric Corporation for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. His Partner,

Elektro, was a seven foot, almost 300 pound robotic man who had a vocabulary of 77 words and could walk forward and backward, smoke cigarettes, turn and bow his head, wave and salute, count to ten, blow up balloons, and could differentiate between green and red. J.M. Barnett, engineer at Westinghouse, told that Sparko was modeled after his scottie, Bonnie. After the World’s Fair Elektro and Sparko toured the country, before settling down at

Pacific Ocean Park in Venice, California, in 1957.

The Brattleboro Daily Reformer, Vermont, March 25, 1916

The Jeffersonian-Democrat, Brookville, Pennsylvania, April 1,  1937

The Sheboygan Press, Wisconsin, April 11, 1936


Owensboro, Kentucky, August 2, 1926

The Pittsburgh Press, Pennsylvania, January 3, 1938

hello! can you please explain the flashlight comic? like is it when somebody takes away your flashlight?? when somebody shines a flashlight on you? what????

Flash photography!

Before the flashbulb, they used what was called a “flashlight”, which was a powder that would explode and, besides much smell and smoke, cause a burst of light for you to illuminate whatever your subject may be. 

If you were using loose powder, you’d add a bit of bottled powder (about a thimble-full if you were in an average sized room) to a piece of gun cotton or tissue paper,

and put that in the middle of your flash pan (a metal tray with a handle which you could hold in your hand or attach to a tripod – if you were an amateur at home you might use a stove shovel) and when you were ready to take the photograph you’d light the corner of your tissue paper. If you had no paper handy, but you had a  wax taper, you could use that instead. Or if you had a fancier model you’d pull either a little trigger, or tug a little cord, and it would ignite the powder. If you were taking multiple pictures you’d have to wait for the powder’s “fog” to clear (usually by opening a door and window or two for at least a couple minutes) before you could take a second shot.

Then there were also flash cartridges with fuses which cut out a lot of the fussing around and came in different sizes. Around 1910 they started making flash sheets, which were basically pieces of paper coated with flash powder. You’d place your flash sheet in a metal holder and light the center of the sheet or attach it to a piece of cardboard and light a corner and the flash would last until the sheet was gone. Later still, there were flash ribbons, which you could cut to whatever length you desired to keep the flash going.

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