Google Glass – Back to the Future


Sometimes when technology meets fashion, the results can be awkward.

Google Glass, Google’s foray into the consumer optical head mounted display market, is worn like a pair of glasses, making the wearer look like the offspring of Robo Cop and a spinster librarian. Which isn’t a bad thing, especially when compared to Tele-Eyeglasses.


The idea of this type of optical devise is older than you may think. Much older. In 1936, inventor, writer, futurist, Hugo Gernsback anticipated it. Gernsback was an ardent student and an early proponent of radio and foresaw its potential to broadcast images, not only sound. His vigorous embrace of technology and his imagination’s ability to squeeze every drop of potential out of it led to some amazing ideas, Tele-Eyeglasses being one of them. He recounts his idea in the March 1949 issue of Radio-Electronics Magazine.

Radio Cover  tele eyes article

Gernsback’s greatest legacy is his writing. The techno-fantasy world he envisioned was vividly described in his numerous books and short stories. So proficient was he in this genre that he is considered the Father of Science Fiction Writing. The Hugo Award, given each year for the best in Science Fiction Writing is named in his honor.

New technology also comes new vocabulary. In the case of Google Glass, Google had to decide what to call wearers of their devise. They chose to call them “Explorers.” Radio didn’t have this problem. People listened to a radio, so radio audiences were called listeners. Early television didn’t have it so easy. Should television audiences to be called telookers, tele seers, tele gazers or televiewers? All names proposed at the time. Televiewer was the name that stuck and was happily truncated to just viewer.

‘Spirit of Television’

The cover of this issue depicts a statuette designed by Gernsback – ‘The Spirit of Television.’ It’s a female figure floating above a cathode-ray tube supported only by flashes of electricity.

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6 Responses to Google Glass – Back to the Future

  1. Pamela Toler (@pdtoler) March 24, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    Always fun to see unexpected parallels from the past.

    • Bart Ingraldi March 24, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

      Yeah, I agree. It certainly brings to mind Ecclesiastes 1:9 …there is nothing new under the sun.

  2. GP Cox March 14, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    Back in those days, I believe, people had more of an imagination. Today it is all “book-smart” or one might change that to be “computer screen-smart.”

    • Bart Ingraldi March 15, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

      I agree. Today, with instant gratification obtainable in all aspects of our lives, there’s no need to work through or figure out something on our own.


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