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The Connubially-Oriented Computer of Otto Tronix
July 1966 Popular Electronics

July 1966 Popular Electronics

July 1966 Popular Electronics Cover - RF CafeTable of Contents

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Popular Electronics, published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.

Admittedly, I needed to look up the meaning of "connubial" when seeing the title of this tongue-in-cheek article by Carl Kohler in the July 1969 issue of Popular Electronics magazine. Nobody knows for sure whether the over-enthusiastic starring male in the series of techie stories that ran in Popular Electronics magazine in the 1950s was actually Carl himself or an alter ego version of himself. Carl was also the artist of numerous tech-related comics. His wife, affectionately referred to as "Old Big Eyes" and a certified "lady-telepath" is always quick to recognize the impending disaster about to ensue, often with her as an unwilling participant. This episode deviates a bit from the already-married type to report on the exploits of born loser Otto Tronix.

The Connubially-Oriented Computer of Otto Tronix

Connubially-Oriented Computer of Otto Tronix, July 1966 Popular Electronics - RF CafeStory and Illustrations By Carl Kohler

Once upon a time and place there lived a chronically-shy person named Otto Tronix. Otto was exceptionally brilliant in things electronic but woefully lacking in confidence where members of the opposite sex were concerned. His pathetic shyness was due, in part, to the fact that - having been raised in an all-male orphanage - Otto's initial contact with girls hadn't been made until he was 34 years old. Consequently, long after he'd embarked on a highly successful career as a Communications Theorist, Otto's life was still a relatively lonely one.

As long as he was only conscious of matters electronic, Otto behaved beautifully-speaking articulately, impressively, and knowledgeably in a voice both cultured and pleasant. Faced by a member of the opposite sex, however, he instantaneously gave every sign of mental retardation complicated by symptoms of mild terror and utter confusion, usually expressed in a staccato of squeaks that would've shamed a tenor mouse.

Otto's shyness threatened to restrict his entire future to long evenings devoted to sundry electronic projects, and his heretofore astoundingly brilliant work as a Communications Theorist began to show his inner stresses and strains. Many were the days when he was actually slow in differentiating a standard Hydronics Velociter from a simple 75-meter loading coil.

Finally, when Otto was thinking seriously about investigating the possible need for trained Communications Theorists in monasteries, a Good Friend inadvertently brought a solution to Otto's morbid and seemingly hopeless situation.

A good friend inadvertently brought a solution to Otto's seemingly hopeless situation - RF Cafe

A good friend inadvertently brought a solution to Otto's seemingly hopeless situation.

"You oughta try one of them Scientific Marriage outfits, man," the Good Friend babbled happily. "That's how Emma and me found each other! It's the only way to find a wife nowadays! Takes all the blind chance outa the whole bit, y'know?"

"It does?" Otto murmured.

"Sure! According to the Scientific Selection File on our Correlation & Validation Ratios, me and Emma got it made in all them areas where it really counts! I mean, like there's no gnawing-type doubts about our Dominant Leadership and Dependent Suggestibility Factors! We know where we stand in all that old static, man!"

"You're pretty happy, huh?" Sheer envy flowed through poor Otto's love-starved emptiness.

"Naw, we loathe each other, but a grand's worth of Statistical Analysis, Probability Graphs, and Interpersonal Compatibility Audits say we're right for one another - and who's gonna argue with them psychology experts now that the bill's paid?"

It gave Otto pause for thought indeed.

So enchanted was Otto by the possibilities this concept excited within his technically alert mind that he immediately applied for his annual vacation and retired to his dwelling - a garish apartment house in one of the better Southern California neighborhoods - where he began sitting moodily beside the huge, dollar-sign-shaped pool under the smog-filtered sunlight, cogitating upon the idea of, perhaps, building a Computer that would eliminate the time and testing factors while offering the swiftest, most efficient method of locating the right girl to share his life. He knew his Computer would have to be a radical departure from all the commonly accepted notions of Scientific Marriage Investigating - mainly because Otto was not only terribly shy, be was also militantly independent and more than a little original.

"By heavens," he muttered determinedly, "my Tronix Tru-Luv Tester will revolutionize the entire field - if it works! It'll not only select the right kind of wife for me but it'll also provide me with the right kind of profits from leases and royalties! A winning combination if I ever saw one forming within the unprinted circuits of my mind!"

To celebrate the emergence of this brilliant idea, he poured himself a generously-fortified drink, and was gleefully sipping it when the luscious and outrageously constructed Redhead who occupied the apartment opposite Otto's came switching into the patio, moving more hippily than nature had intended she should but inspired by the sight of Otto sitting poolside. Otto froze at the sight of her.

"Hi, Genius-boy!" purred the Redhead.

"Looks like you've decided to come out of your shell and join the human race. Which is just marvy because I've had eyes for the likes of you ever since you set foot on the premises!"

She stopped, a mere twenty feet distant, but still moving here and there in a manner of speaking.

"Guk!" said Otto, blushing furiously. "Man, that's the wildest thing I've ever heard!"

Otto dances with joy - RF Cafe

"All I have to do now is ... "

"Guk-Guggity-Guk!" Otto politely stuttered, his twitching vocal chords fighting desperately to convey the blazing sense of welcome her presence sparked, and failing to accomplish more than spewed nonsense sounds.

"You're cute!" the Redhead decided aloud, gliding toward him. "Mysterious, too!"

"G-G-Guk!" wailed Otto, sprinting for the safety and silence of his own apartment, where he huddled in convulsive despair and misery.

Burying himself in the labor of building the Computer helped ease his shame and the pain of loneliness as well as accelerate the construction process - and the entire unit was completed in less than a week. Consisting of items and components chosen from the depths of Otto's fantastic wellspring of electronic know-how - which had been gradually seeping into his consciousness from the long-ago day when he'd created a carbon resistor from pencil leads and old dry-battery anodes to the recent past when he'd received a special company award for his thoughtful paper, "Generating Plasmonic Signals Via the Use of Denture Plates" - the Tru-Luv Tester closely resembled a hi-fi set that thought itself a commercial jukebox. Which was not accidental since mass-production problems were clearly alive in Otto's planning throughout the entire designing period (ten hours spent hunched over a breadboard propped against a stack of books such as Super-Advanced Boolean Algebra For Restless Neurotics, Galena Crystal Theory & Application For Those Who Refute Current Practices, and Servomechanisms Are Something Else If Improperly Installed.

Operational procedure was simplicity itself. Once a subject was positioned before the Reception Screen and a button depressed, activating a Receive System, the Tester scanned the subject - electro-optically and electro-telepathically absorbing every aspect of the subject until the subject's personality and appearance factors had been fully established - and then automatically converted to an Analyze System, sending the information through sundry channels until the factors had been coded, recoded, decoded, evaluated, compared to norms installed previously (Otto's tastes and hopes), and diverting the refined data to myriad Memory Banks for future reference. At this point the Tester competently turned itself off.

Otto stopped dancing - RF Cafe

Otto stopped dancing.

When the Transmit System button was depressed, the Tester's built-in Audio-Expression mechanisms immediately began delivering salient facts from the Memory Banks, routing them through the Risk Calculator and the Interpersonality Capacitor, and eventually sending immensely condensed evaluations over a series of interlocking circuits to the Phase & Phrase Selector which was cunningly adapted to the Audio-Expression Speaker which, in turn, broadcast aloud clear-cut statements of scientific opinion.

Otto now tested the Tester by slyly depressing the On-Receive button shortly before the cleaning-lady arrived to perform. her regular duties.

Hearing the faint hum of electronic activity, the cleaning-lady wandered over to the Tester - unaware that she was stationed before an instrument that was industriously measuring her as she stood there glaring suspiciously at the gleaming steel cabinet which housed the Tester.

No sooner had she departed than Otto re-entered his apartment (he'd been hiding in a large planter just outside a back window) and activated the Transmit System.

The loudspeaker boomed: Subject is not your type. She's too old for you. She's married to someone else. She thinks you are some kind of foreign spy engaged in deadly research. Forget it.

The Tester went silent.

"Boy!" breathed Otto. "Have I ever hit the old jackpot! This baby'll find me exactly the kind of girl I'll want to marry!"He pranced around the Tester, joyously gyrating in a victory dance of triumph. "All I have to do now is start bringing girls in here and let the Tester -"

Otto stopped dancing. Suddenly, the gap in his plan was painfully obvious. "Oh, no!" he cried, an agony of disappointment wrenching the joy and happiness from his mind. "I'm too shy to invite girls over here! The whole idea is down the tubes! Utter Failure! Waste Of Time, Energy & Materials! I oughta get drunk!"

Finding that his own supply of potables was practically non-existent, Otto went down to the corner tavern and quietly huddled in the most isolated booth in the darkest corner - ordering one round after another from the bar by hand-signals.

Sleepily, she blushed at him - RF Cafe

Sleepily, she blushed at him.

Four hours of this steady beverage intaking and he was a new man. More stoned than an Irish wall, he returned to the apartment house, singing bawdy mathematical equations set to the off-key melodies learned in his far-distant childhood and vaguely groping in the dim light of the patio for his apartment doorway.

Inside the apartment, he stumbled woozily over to the Tester. Bitterly, he jabbed the Receive System button, hearing the instrument "hum up" and knowing it was vainly trying to absorb male-gender data despite the fact that it had only been developed to successfully take in information when the subject was female-gender.

"I hope you blow up in my stupid face!" wailed Otto. "It'd serve me right for trying to be so smart!"

The Tester went silent.

Otto violently depressed the Transmit System button, closing his eyes and awaiting the electronic devastation he knew was almost certain to follow as the instrument exploded its circuitry once electrical frustration overlapped and backwashed its innards.

"Subject is quite suitable!" boomed the Tester. "Single employed in compatible work and possessed of interests almost identical to needed elements of computed standard."

Otto opened his eyes, bewildered. "Subject constitutes exact type sought to meet every listed requirement. Subject is under the influence of al -"

"What's going on, here, anyway?" Otto shouted. Your voice has changed!"

That's when he suddenly saw the Brunette Doll.

She stood in a bedroom doorway, sleepily staring at him and shyly adjusting her horn-rimmed glasses which somehow went well with the rather skimpy shortie-nightie that accentuated her compactly curved little figure.

"On, good qrief!" groaned Otto thickly. "I'm in the wrong apartment!"

His eyes reluctantly went back to the Tester which was still evaluating. "B-But if I'm in the wrong apartment," he gasped, "how come this gismo is -

He glanced at the Brunette in confusion.

She blushed. Otto blushed.

"G-G-G-G-GUK!" said the Brunette nervously.

 

 

Posted March 21, 2018

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