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There are now 14 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. Silent-Hunter says

    London Coffee Shop? Is that a reference to something?

    • The London Coffee House was a short walk from Independence Hall, straight down Chestnut Street, left on Front Street. There was a genteel tavern on the ground floor, and private meeting rooms upstairs. It had become Philadelphia’s commercial exchange, where merchants sold commodities, deals were brokered, and high finance happened.

      It was a rallying point for anti-British protest in the years leading up to the Revolution, and became a patriot headquarters once war began.

      But when the British occupied the city in 1778, all that changed. It became the hangout of British officers and tories. When the original owner finally got it back, it was too late. The stock market had moved on elsewhere, and the location was tarnished by reputation as a tory establishment. Business never really returned, and it was finally shuttered for good in 1793.

      I don’t have reliable sources for where the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention spent their leisure hours. They (and their wives) were crammed into the few available hotels, that is known, but which of the numerous taverns they frequented is not recorded to my knowledge.

      But it is also known that they brainstormed ideas during those leisure hours. And they were absolutely sworn to secrecy (the seriousness of their oath being one of the major obstacles to meaningful historical research here).

      So I’ve allowed myself a bit of artistic license, and claimed the London Coffee House as a reasonable location for the delegates to hang out and bat ideas around after hours, with minimal chance of being overheard by the curious.

  2. Also, what is that person on the bottom left? A child? No, a toddler? What fool draws this tripe?

  3. Jonas says

    His neck of the woods would be Georgia, right?

  4. Raen says

    Even if the delegates represent archetypes rather than individuals, I choose to believe the overhead projector is the product of meticulous research.

    • Never underestimate the ingenuity of your ancestors.

      By the 1400s, people were projecting images onto their walls using lanterns that had images painted on the glass. You can buy children’s nightlights that are much the same idea. (Fun fact: The Liber Instrumentorum, published in 1420, shows one of these being used by a monk to frighten people with an image of a demon. For the next few hundred years, projectors would be used mainly to frighten people.)

      By the early 1600s, magicians were using slides for their performances. Christiaan Huygens’ father got a set from a magician friend in 1622, and Huygens later made his own improvements. Athenasius Kircher (one of the most famous early scientists of his day) was experimenting with lenses to focus the images by the 1640s. Around 1660, Thomas Walgensten was traveling around Europe, selling tickets to “magic lantern” performances and selling the gadgets themselves to those who could afford one. There was money to be made, and in London the optician and telescope maker John Reeves was selling them by 1663. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary (two weeks before the Fire of London) that he’d bought from Reeves “a lanthorn, with pictures on glass, to make strange things appear on a wall, very pretty.”

      By the 1680s, slide projectors had evolved to include rudimentary animation, rotating slides to simulate clock hands moving on superimposed images, for example. All kinds of improvements in machinery, lenses, slide carousels, and the like rapidly took off.

      Slides were still mostly used to creep people out. Around the time of the Philadelphia Convention, the entertainment was starting to be known as “the phantasmagoria.” It was the 18th and 19th century equivalent of going to a horror movie. You’d go to an old (abandoned, if possible) church at night, buy your tickets, and once you were there in the dark spooky ghosts and demons would be projected on the walls to scare the wits out of you. Disney didn’t invent the haunted mansion. (Not as popular for some reason, there were also slide shows of Bible stories or morality plays that might come to town.)

      By the 1830s, really elaborate and expensive shows were being constructed, with animated images, dissolves, voice actors, sound and lighting effects. Technological advances allowed for lights so powerful they could project sharp colorful images onto screens three stories tall. Special theaters were built just for slide shows. It was really amazing.

      After the Civil War, there was an entire industry just around these magic lantern shows, supplying the equipment, slides, and everything. In one city alone, there were over 30 businesses dedicated to the manufacture of projectors and slides.

      Moving pictures killed slide shows as entertainment. Movies were basically a high-speed slide show, really, without any of the bells and whistles, but they were much MUCH cheaper to duplicate and present.

      Slides were relegated to the living room, to show your neighbors what you’d seen on your vacation, or to classroom and business presentations. PowerPoint 1.0 debuted (originally as Presenter) in 1987, putting the last nail in the coffin.


      All that said, I only meant it as a silly anachronistic South Park reference.

      • That’s fascinating! I didn’t know they had that back then. That said, despite the availability of LibreOffice Impress (Or Microsoft PowerPoint) I still use a slide projector to display photos sometimes.

  5. Brandon says

    Dang, I didn’t know they had powerpoint presentations back in the 1700’s too. :P

  6. mikecody0318 says

    “For the next few hundred years, projectors would be used mainly to frighten people”

    If you’ve seen my ex father-in-laws slide shows, you would realize that they still have the same effect.

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