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The monorail perfectly exemplifies that nothing dates like the future, it is a piece of anachronistic technology that is today largely relegated to theme parks and inter terminal airport transit. Although the archetypal image of a monorail is the 1959 Disneyland version, as this list shows, its design history traces back to the middle of the 19th century, with steam driven versions that share none of the futuristic aesthetic of the streamlined post war versions. In this case, although the pioneering system from a technical point of view was the 1952 German Alweg, the 1911 Boyes monorail prototype shows the origins of the futuristic look.

9 Vintage Monorails

Flying helmets are interesting because they demonstrate the rate of technological progress over the 20th century, from primitive, almost medieval looking leather caps to sophisticated cyborg like devices packed full of electronics. They also show different air force cultures, from spartan Soviet styles to individualistic, decorated and painted US fighter pilot helmets.

flying helmets

Imagine a gas powered desktop publishing system that weighed several tons, leaked oil, had thousands of moving parts, its own boiler full of molten lead and a keyboard where you couldn’t see what you had typed and which looked a thousand times more strange and complicated than any deliberately anachronistic Steampunk PC casemod.

This is how the machines that laid out the pages of newspapers were till the 80s, and to give some idea of how recent this technology was used, they were manufactured until after the release of the Apple computer. Linotype had a virtual monopoly on the typesetting of newspapers for a hundred years and their design is a superb example of an endlessly refined solution to what became an anachronistic problem. Linotypes were unlike any keyboard driven device, before or since.

linotypes from hell

The sight of a Zeppelin under construction must have been an awe inspiring experience. The hangers that were constructed for this purpose are the largest structures even created and the lightness required for the Zeppelin frames meant that their trusses consisted of sophisticated aluminum struts where each strut was in turn another truss. The overall effect is of incredible complexity and detail, like a gigantic high-tech whale set in a space that resembles a Piranesi engraving of a dungeon with enormous shafts of sunlight lit by dust. Because of their age, this technological look is combined with distinctly archaic elements, such as the gas bags which were made from thousands of cows’ stomachs or the scaffolding and ladders which are wooden and rickety.

Zeppelins under construction

Almost everything there is to know about modernism is contained in a single room slice of a curtain wall tower dropped into the Illinois countryside. The Farnsworth house was a project designed and built by Mies van der Rohe 60 years ago, undeserving of its patron’s name, who wrongfully sued and which still seems to win prizes and be declared as innovative when architects consciously or unconsciously copy it today. Here are a dozen examples to demonstrate it.

12 buildings inspired by the Farnsworth house

From a skyscraper’s lights that can be controlled by passers by, to the legendary rock set design of Mark Fisher and Jonathan Park here are some examples of the worlds largest screens. Vote for your faves.

20 giant screens

Skyscrapers produce great charts because they are long and skinny like the columns in a bar graph. They combine the nerdy attraction of big buildings with infographics and therefore at Oobject we are obsessed with them. Here we have collected a bunch of skyscraper style size comparisons, and not just of buildings, so that you can compare the empire state building with the Titanic, a deep salt mine, space rockets and a neutrino telescope under the antarctic ice.

skyscraper infographics

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WTF is that? #12

July 16th, 2009 #link

wtf

What was in this case? It’s topical.



7 Responses to “WTF is that? #12”

  1. DanRR Says:

    It’s an ALSRC, Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container also referred as “rock box”.
    http://www.nasm.si.edu/events/apollo11/objects/apolloartifact.cfm?id=A19710814000

  2. Gaijiniji Says:

    Is it a case for holding radioactive material?

  3. admin Says:

    @Dan. Yes it is!

    And suitably impressive it is too. Often items designed to transport precious objects are disappointing wooden crates, but this box is absolutely perfect.

    If it had been made by a Hollywood prop designer I would have thought that it was too overblown. But its the real thing, and with its Swiss bank vault like protection it is a thing of beauty.

    Happy 40th birthday rock box that rocks!

  4. Ryan Says:

    This would be perfect for my collection of ch.. I mean porn. Just normal porn.

  5. BRUCE CREE Says:

    it’s one piece of my gf’s luggage (a container inside of a container)

  6. Mighty Mike Says:

    Right the first time. It’s the case used to bring back lunar rocks to Earth. Then again, I’m in the biz, so have a slight edge.

  7. Shawn Says:

    As a custom case designer by trade, I’m impressed. Altho I could do without the banding across the top, but if it makes them feel better, so be it. Pelican take notice!