Monday, April 11, 2011


Gernsback has been one of my areas of research this past year. And reading about him has been beyond fun for me.

Hugo Gernsback emigrated to the United States from Belgium in the early twentieth century.  He immediately set up shop in New York City as a entrepreneur.  He first had his own radio business, importing, fixing and selling.  Then he started producing his own wireless sets--really they were the only wireless radio that worked reliably at the time.  From there he produced a catalog.  And from the catalog, a hobby magazine, Modern Electrics.

He started writing "what if" essays in Modern Electrics which were often speculations of the future.  He also wrote a series of stories set in the year 2660 about Ralph 124C 41+ which were published in individual issues and eventually collected as the novel Ralph 124C 41+: a romance of the year 2660.

The next step was, perhaps, inevitable.  He hopped into publishing an all-fiction pulp magazine.  But unlike other pulp fiction publishers, Gernsback focused only on scientific fiction--his passion--which he called "scientifiction," a name which never really caught on.  After three years of publishing Amazing Stories he switched terms and effectively coined the term "science fiction" to describe what his magazine produced.

Always the entrepreneur, he started dozens of magazines over the next forty years and had 80 patents in his name when he died in 1967, including one for the personal TV he's shown wearing in the picture below.  It strapped onto your head ... but you still had to adjust the antennae.

Highly Recommended