7 Extremely Weird Inventions From the Grandfather of Science Fiction

7 Extremely Weird Inventions From the Grandfather of Science Fiction

Hugo Gernsback’s 1925 idea for the “Isolator,” an office invention that allowed workers to cut out distractions.
Image: Science and Invention

Hugo Gernsback was a pioneer in the world of science fiction during the first half of the 20th century—so much so that the Hugo Awards are named after him. But Gernback also edited serious tech magazines and came up with ideas that were often way ahead of their time. Or, in the case of the office “isolator” pictured above, simply too weird for any time.

Born in Luxembourg in 1884, Gernsback moved to the U.S. in 1904 and it wasn’t long before he established himself as a writer with incredibly innovative ideas. In 1908, Gernsback founded his first magazine, Modern Electrics, the world’s first magazine devoted to electronics, often with a special focus on the budding new tech of radio.

In 1913, he started The Electrical Experimenter, which would become known as Science and Invention in the 1920s. And in 1919 he founded Radio News, with Television News launched in 1928, just a couple of years after the first experimental tests of TV. That doesn’t even include the sci-fi titles he started like Amazing Stories.

All of these serious-minded tech magazines had at least one article in every issue by Gernsback, and they often included ideas for futuristic inventions. They’re simply some of the most interesting old ideas for the future from a century ago.

Above we see Gernsback’s idea for cutting out all office distractions, dubbed “the isolator,” which was featured in the July 1925 edition of Science and Invention magazine and provided a fascinating snapshot into the sci-fi pioneer’s mind. You can read about that invention and more by clicking through the slideshow.

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