Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tracing the TASER

The 1969 brainchild of NASA scientist Jack Cover, the TASER is named for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”, which was gleefully deployed in a series syndicated by juvenile fictioneer Edward Stratemeyer.
     I maintain the Syndicate’s 1910 invention was itself triggered by the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalogue, 1908. On its 208th page, alongside wet-or-dry-battery Miniature Fruit Lamps in peach, cherry, and pear, the Magneto Electric Thriller beckons. A device that “affords great amusement”, the Thriller vows to “make a strong man tremble.”
     A Mister James Keeline has thrown down the gauntlet, attributing the invention to Jules Verne.
     We duel at sunrise.

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