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Archive for March 7th, 2011

Lifetime Experience

Posted by Dirck on 7 March, 2011

As we enjoy another January 7th here on the wind-swept prairies, and await the sound of renewed glaciers as they thunder down from the north to wipe all sign of human achievement from the face of the continent, I though it might be fun to look back at a time when the general popular assumption was that the wiping away would be by fire rather than ice.

Gosh, he is in a mood today, isn’t he, folks?

Over the weekend, I got an e-mail directing my attention to an interesting item of Sheaffer ephemera on the Rhodia Drive site– for the purposes of my current noodling, I reproduce the image accompanying a little imagination-excursion to the 1964 New York World’s Fair:

This reminded me that I had another advert in the same line, which I picked up on a strange whim.  The page has little to identify the source, but the size of the page suggests a slightly smaller magazine, as Popular Science and/or Mechanics were in the days of yore.  Have a look:

There is at least one more ad in this series, showing a ring which acts as one’s portal to using a credit card. That can be seen over at Pen Hero on the page about early Imperials, and I decline to reproduce it here as he’s taken the trouble to apply a citation to the bottom of it.

What this puts me in mind of is not the durability of today’s pen, nor of the item I’ve got with the appropriate “Lifetime” clip (both of which, of course, will be ground a powder as they join the terminal morraine of the next glacier), but rather of the interesting degree of prescience that Sheaffer’s ad-men brought to the question of consumer goods in the early 21st century.

Imagine for a moment that you were, as the lead male in The Time Traveler’s Wife, launched backward to the early 1960s carrying nothing but perhaps the pigments of any tattoos you might have.  You find that your stranding lasts long enough to allow the finding of some trousers and perhaps a shirt, and you tell the donor of some of the wonders of your own time.  Huge flat-screen TVs would be pretty astonishing, although somewhat pedestrian by the time Star Trek and Fahrenheit 451 got into general release (both from 1966, apparently the year of the large monitor), but then you start to get into the smaller items.  Consider that you are just telling, not showing, and what you describe can only be visualized through the filter of your auditor’s current context.

The “visual phone” is pretty clearly an iPhone, clunky physical switches notwithstanding.  That watch is not quite the same shape as any of the three which are available on the Thinkgeek site, but that hardly signifies.  The credit-card ring is a little harder to find an exact modern homologue for… but is it somewhat suggestive of the RFID technology.

Interestingly forward-looking.  And yet, they still went ahead with the Stylist.  Go figure.

Today’s pen (even in the 21st century):  Sheaffer Imperial IV
Today’s ink:  Pelikan 4001 violet


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