It was incredibly simple to use. Using a font size that could be measured only in gnome tears, each book was printed onto a series of thin pamphlet cards. Once slotted into the machine, all the reader had to do was look through the eyeglass and, voila, reading. It was reported at the time that Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, a weighty tome clocking in at 93,000 words, could be shrunk down to only 13 pamphlets, which is an impressive achievement considering that old-timey words were super long and slang hadn't been invented yet.
The guy behind this device, Rear Admiral Bradley Fiske, was even as cock-sure as Steve Jobs or Elon Musk when it came to talk about how his invention was going to revolutionize the world. As he described it, the Fiske Reading Machine heralded the death of the modern-day printing press, a device that, as of this writing, has survived more certain deaths than The Goddamn Batman.
"Come back once you've co-existed with the microprocessor, kid."
As you've probably guessed by now, the Fiske Reading Machine did diddly-squat to revolutionize the world of reading. For all we know, the past equivalent of Google bought him out and shuttered the company. That leaves us with only one legacy: this amazing photo of Fiske bringing every ounce of his best game to a photo shoot.
"Hey, girl. Heard you like words."