history

Will Google Sell All Your Emails To Your Grandchildren?

In 40 years will Google, Facebook and Visa sell all your emails, photos, and purchase history to your grandchildren? The Sony hack has reminded us that nearly everything we say and do here in the early 21st century will be on the record forever. And we better be prepared for the historians of tomorrow to pick through every piece of it.


How Scotch Tape Was Invented

Despite the name, Scotch tape wasn’t invented by the Scottish. It was invented by a college dropout named Richard Drew from Minnesota who worked for a small sandpaper company founded in 1902 called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, later known as 3M. The name “Scotch” itself has an origin story almost as interesting as the invention of Scotch tape.


The Surpisingly Old Origins Of The Fax Machine

Today, we mostly think of the fax machine as an outdated piece of technology. While there are still some uses for it in an office-setting, technological advances are sending the fax machines to the same pasture as pagers, landline telephones and disposable cameras. Even if this is the last we hear of the beeps and bops that echo as an incoming fax is transmitted, the fax machine had a very long life — an amazing 171 years to be exact. Yes, the fax machine was invented in 1843, before the Model-T was even a dream, before the telephone was invented, and even before the American Civil War broke out.


IKEA Is Reissuing Amazing Old Designs From The 1950s And 1960s

Ikea is over 70 years old, which means the company has survived through dozens upon dozens of design trends, from stuffy conservatism in the late 1940s to the craziness of the 1960s. Wonderfully, the company is now plucking classics from its archives to sell in some stores.


Everything You Need To Know About The Cold War In A 9-Minute Animation

These cute animations that teach you about our history are just the best. Partly because I love history, partly because the cartoon drawings make me laugh and partly because I really think I’m learning more than I ever did in school. I mean, spending 10 minutes on YouTube is better than a semester at school.


Why We Use X As The Unknown In Maths

For hundreds of years, x has been the go-to symbol for the unknown quantity in mathematical equations. So who started this practice?


Watching A Master Of Street Photography Rant For Two Hours Is Bliss

If you’re into street photography, you’re well familiar with Garry Winogrand, one of the genre’s most recognised icons. Even if you don’t know him, watch this video from his visit to Rice University in 1977 for some rare off-the-cuff insights about photography.


America's Long, Weird Search For The Perfect Voting Machine

Millions of Americans will vote today, and for the first time in years, many of them will use paper ballots. For a nation that’s produced some of the most advanced machines in the world, we’ve had a hell of a time figuring out one of the most important.


How A Secret Squad Saved London From Flooding In The WWII Blitz

When bombs rained down on London during the Blitz, they fell on houses, on churches, and, less famously, on embankments along the River Thames. The damaged embankments could have sent devastating floods through London, but they didn’t — thanks to a group of engineers who worked secretly and at night.


The British Museum Will Now Let You 3D Print Copies Of Its Artifacts

Following in the footsteps of New York’s Metropolitan Museum, London’s British Museum is about to revolutionise the gift shop experience by allowing visitors to download and 3D print replicas of its priceless antiques and artifacts.