hugo gernsback

I think we have all had times when we couldn’t seem to concentrate on our work. Or maybe you had a child who couldn’t concentrate on their homework. Well, in 1925, an inventor named Hugo Gernsback, a Luxembourgish-American inventor, writer, editor, and magazine publisher, invented a helmet to make sure a person focused on their work. It was called the Isolator, and it was…well, bizarre. Gernsback was often known as “The Father Of Science Fiction,” and one look at his invention can tell you why that might be. The Isolator was a wooden helmet that blocked out sound and vision in order to help the wearer focus on whatever task was at hand. Gernsback claimed that the helmet blocked out sound by up to 95%, and the tiny glass spy-hole ensured that no amount of movement nearby could be seen, so that the wearer was not distracted. This would eliminate all outside distractions, and barely give enough room for the wearer to see the work in front of them, and nothing else.

While it might have been a great device to help the wearer focus, it looked more like some kind of medieval torture device. The front of the device had an oxygen tube that was attached to a bottle of oxygen, so it was impossible to eat and study too. So, with no sound, no food, no way to play video games, the modern child would have no choice but to focus on homework. Now, I don’t know if the device could be locked in place…only to be removed when the work at hand was done, but if that is the case, I would think the wearer would get right to the task, so that the device could come off sooner. Just think of how much studying a college student could accomplish. Of course, my guess would be that even a person who was not claustrophobic before wearing the Isolator, would be claustrophobic after wearing it…not to mention a little paranoid, and leery of the person who made them wear the Isolator in the first place.

The Isolator never really caught on, and I think anyone can see why that might be, but I guess it might have been a good idea, had it not been so archaic and confining. Of course, that was only part of the problem. The wearer also looked ridiculous, and while they could be anonymously ridiculous looking in some places, it didn’t work that way at the office or in study hall, where everyone knew who was in the office or class. And, of course, it would be really creepy sitting next to someone who was wearing the Isolator. I think we will have to chalk this one up to a good idea gone crazy.

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