Friday, August 12, 2005


The Cletus Critical Edition

I've a piece in New Scientist about the Hinman Collator, a wonderful postwar contraption made of mirrors, lenses, flashing high-intensity lights, and clad in a vaguely menacing 1950s sheet metal housing; they were used for decades by scholars to compare variant copies of Shakespeare, Twain, etc. If you've ever read a Norton Critical Edition in college, you were probably reading something made at a Hinman.

The Hinman was subsidized in part by the success of a very different invention altogether, the Targeteer. This was a sort of a poor man's skeet-shooter, which lobbed beer cans in a the air so that you could blast them out of the sky. That's right, you high-falutin' types: your precious scholarly tomes were created thanks to drunk gun-wielding hillbillies.

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