MySci Round-Up October 6: The Netbook’s Predecessor

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On this day in 1908, Henry Simon Winzeler founded Ohio Art Company in a rented building in Archbold, OH. In its early years, the company manufactured metal picture frames, miniature windmills, and a toy known as the climbing monkey, which delighted tykes by scooting up a string. But the company’s big breakthrough came in the late 1950s, when across the ocean in France, an electrician named Andre Cassagnes came up with a novel idea for a drawing toy that used a stylus to draw lines in aluminum powder inside a glass screen. Cassagnes called his invention the “telecran,” a name that probably would have doomed it to the bargain bin. Ohio Art’s official version is that the French inventor approached Ohio Art through mutual business contacts, though another version of the tale has the company spotting the device at a European toy fair. In any case, the French inventor was paired with Ohio Art’s chief engineer, Jerry Burger, who worked with him to perfect it.

Their design became the Etch-A-Sketch, a tablet-sized device with knobs that used a system of strings and pulleys to manipulate a stylus and scrape the fine powder away from the dark backing, creating lines. The Etch-A-Sketch debuted in 1960, and quickly became a sensation among then-youthful Baby Boomers. Though most of us never got past the stick-men stage, this 
slideshow depicts some of the works of Etch-A-Sketch virtuosos, which range from semi-realistic drawings of dogs, Elvis and Tiger Woods to a surprisingly faithful copy of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”

And with that, here is the science and technology news of the day.

Graphene is the next Miracle Whip. Well, maybe not. But sheets of the stuff could be tweaked to create electronic circuits that are only molecule-thick, researchers say.

Android puts a hurtin’ on both RIM and Apple. 
In terms of new purchases, that is. Pretty soon everything in the universe is going to be Googly.

Study backs simplified CPR for patients. 
On the downside, this means we’re probably going to have to listen to a lot more “I went through a tunnel and then suddenly saw a bright light” stories from people who survive cardiac arrest.

Novelty and complexity are the result of small evolutionary changes, study finds. 
On the other hand, if you just want complex novelties, try the Archie McPhee catalog. We’re partial to the Monsieur Tofu action figure, ourselves.

A rainbow on the Moon? 
Seriously. Check out the photo.

SkyLifter airship may someday haul entire buildings. 
It’s shaped like the evil alien flying saucer in “Independence Day,” too.