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19.29 22 Mar 2015


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Long before Amazon came to dominate the e-reader market with the Kindle, an American admiral by the name of Bradley Fiske was already trying to change the way we read book, condensing tomes and novels into something that could fit in your pocket.

And lo, the Pocket Reading Machine was born, a six inch by two inch contraption that could hold cards filled with more than 100,000 words – enough for a novel about the same length as HG Wells War of the Worlds.  

In the June 1922 issue of Science & Invention magazine, Admiral Fiske’s reader was revealed for the first time, along with images of its creator using it. While holding the magnifier to your face might look uncomfortable, the write-up assures readers that that the reader causes no great strain to the eyes:

Admiral Fiske was decorated officer in the US Navy, and served his country at the end of the 19th century. He was a keen inventor, and is credited with having influenced such innovations as radio-controlled torpedoes and a number of nautical instruments which dramatically improved the efficiency of warships.

In 1916, he retired, but continued to tinker around with inventions, including a proto-Kindle device that could contain an entire novel on just a few strips of card.


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