What people did before television: A lengthy letter to the editors

What people did before television: A lengthy letter to the editors

100 years ago in American Machinist

A reader kindly wrote to the editors to describe the attention he paid to each issue of American Machinist. He could not read during work, even though he thought such reading improved his mind, but he did read the shorter pieces, such as editorials and product news, during his lunch break. He found the book reviews helpful, especially the ones that received AM's highest endorsements. He purchased those books.

He always read "help wanted" and the "situations wanted," comparing the requirements sought and the experience touted. He also perused the "new catalog" section, requesting the ones that most interested him. During his evenings or on Sunday, he read the feature articles. The more technical and complex articles he read twice, copying the formulas and tables he "might find useful later" in a loose-leaf, indexed data book. "Any article which is of very — his emphasis, not ours — special interest to me, I try to re-write after the second reading, making the necessary (free hand) sketches and stating the text from memory." He then read the article a third time to make sure he had the facts right! Then he reviewed the advertisements, and anything he found to be new or striking he studied carefully to "gain an impression of current American tool design." He went on to proclaim that he felt "that more benefit can be derived from slowly and systematically reading than by hasty perusal or with intermittent enthusiasm." It seems evident that this 1906 reader did not have attention deficit disorder or a short attention span.

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