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The Enigma is one of the most well known devices in the history of gadgets, being responsible for the birth of the computing industry, in attempts to crack it. This has largely overshadowed the plethora of other cryptographic devices, which are often overlooked. Here is a gallery of 20 secret message machines.

20 cipher devices

Atomic clocks are accurate to within one second since the period in time when humans and apes diverged. These clocks are literally what makes modern civilization tick, but few people ever see one. Their accuracy is necessary to overcome potential errors caused by relativistic effects in GPS satellites, for example. Here is a gallery of some of the more interesting atomic clocks. Vote for your faves.

12 amazing atomic clocks

In 2006 and 2007 a new method of smuggling emerged, surface skimming, semi-submersible, home-made submarines were captured from Thailand to Spain to Colombia. In 2008 the number spotted has already reached the 2007 count. These craft often had sophisticated electronics for evading capture. To get some idea of the logistical scale of these things, a 100ft long Russian designed submarine was captured in Colombia's capital, Bogota, 7,500 ft above sea level. The voting for this list is obviously irrelevant.

drug smuggling submarines

Historically, military rations, comprised, in significant part, of cigarettes and alcohol, while the quantity of food was far less than today. Current US army field rations are ready to eat and focus on high energy foods including caffeine-infused gum, they must cost less than $7.25 per meal, survive for 3 years at 27 degrees C and after a 100 foot drop.Civilian rations are often far less bountiful, such as WW2 food rations current Cuban rations or the tiny hunk of bread that Gulag prisoners were given. Vote for which items are most striking.

12 different food rations

The earliest remotes were neither wireless or used to control TVs. Since the 30s devices were available to control radios, Philcos 1939 wood and Bakelite model was actually wireless and predates any TV remote. TV remotes started with gadgets such as the Zenith Lazy Bones and it was Zenith who introduced the first cable free TV remote, with the Flash-matic.

9 early remote controls

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WTF is That? Number 4

April 20th, 2009 link to (permalink)


What is this ‘hellish’ machine? There’s the clue.

As usual, answers in the comments.

7 Responses to “WTF is That? Number 4”

  1. simon Says:

    Its the Phantom of the Opera’s Organ

  2. spliffer Says:

    An enigma coding machine on a submarine.

  3. Harry Says:

    Heavens to Mergenthaler, I reckon it’d cast a line of type for you, if you knew how to ask. The manufacturer has one “H. E. double hockey-sticks” of a moniker.

  4. admin Says:

    @Harry – Indeed its a particularly hellish version of a linotype machine, used to set type for the press in the days of hot metal.

    The original image is here:

    We have collected a list of 10 of our favorite linotypes here:

    I believe the origin of the term ‘hell’ now used for the font maker Linotype Hell was the bucket that was used to collect the molten lead, referred to as a hell bucket (this was certainly not like desktop publishing with a PC).


  5. WTF is That? Number 4 | oobject - Daily User Ranked Gadget Lists Says:

    […] Excerpt from: WTF is That? Number 4 | oobject – Daily User Ranked Gadget Lists […]

  6. Kyle Says:

    I guessed it right!

  7. WTF is That? Number 4 | oobject - Daily User Ranked Gadget Lists | ClassyComp.Com Says:

    […] Excerpt from:  WTF is That? Number 4 | oobject – Daily User Ranked Gadget Lists […]

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