Skip to comments.END OF AN ERA: POPULAR SCIENCE SHUTTERS MAGAZINE
Posted on 12/01/2023 1:22:30 PM PST by Red Badger
Just three years after the iconic magazine abandoned its print version and went all-digital, Popular Science is now halting its subscription service entirely. The brand itself will live on — their site will still run tech stories and news articles, and they have two podcasts that will keep getting new episodes — but no more quarterly releases. While you can’t complain too much about a 151 year run, it’s still sad to see what was once such an influential publication slowly become just another cog in the content mill.
Started as a monthly magazine all the way back in 1872, Popular Science offered a hopeful vision of what was over the horizon. It didn’t present a fanciful version of what the next 100 years would look like, but rather, tried to read the tea leaves of cutting edge technology to offer a glimpse of what the next decade or so might hold. Flip through a few issues from the 1950s and 60s, and you won’t see pulpy stories about humanity conquering the stars or building a time machine. Instead the editors got readers ready for a day when they’d drive cars with warbird-derived turbochargers, and enjoy more powerful tools once transistor technology allowed for widespread use of small brushless motors. It wasn’t just armchair engineering either, issues would often include articles written by the engineers and researchers that were on the front lines.
But Popular Science wasn’t just about the future, it also provided plenty of contemporary content for those who liked to toy with technology at home. You could find articles about building your own test equipment, or setting up your own workshop. From woodworking to homebrew Geiger counters, there was a little something for everyone.
This focus on the hobbyist wasn’t without its downside. For the last decade or two, the magazine seemed to have more advertisements trying to sell the reader on the latest wiz-bang gadgetry than it did articles. Then again, there are precious few printed publications that didn’t suffer that particular fate.
Much like when MAKE went through its troubles back in 2019, we have to admit there’s a bit of irony at work here. The reality is, sites like the one you’re reading right now are the reason tech magazines have become a dying breed. But even if the age of print is coming to a close, we still have great respect for the seminal publications that came before the Internet took over our lives.
Surely many of the people in this community were inspired to pick up their first soldering iron by something they saw in a magazine like Popular Science, Byte, Popular Electronics, or Hands-On Electronics. We can only hope to do their legacy justice for the next generation.
Flush. What a shame.
Rachel Green applied to work there. If only they had hired her.
Science isn’t popular anymore.
I about wore out the issue featuring the great Topeka, KS tornado.
Went woke went broke
They used to have a lot of cool plans to make your own science experiments.
One was making a hydrofoil boat using board and marine plywood.
There was another about how to make magnesium powered card that would “recharge” just by swapping out plates of metal.
Science is racist. :-P
Sport’s Illustrated is next on the chopping block
Scientific American took its place.
Pity. It was a fun magazine way back in the day, just as Popular Mechanics was.
Every page was dog-eared by the end of the day I received my issues.
now one could trust them anymore.
I remember it well. Read every issue as a kid and got interested in a lot of things because of it.
Magazines are obsolete.
Grew up reading Popular Science and a similar magazine (I think it wa popular mechanics) when I stayed with my grandfather during summer visits.
Found a treasure trove stack of every old issue he ever received hidden up in the attic.
Spent wonderful, long hours pouring through them.
Dear Old Dad built rocket guidance systems at GE in the 50s and wanted me to be an engineer like him (he succeeded). He gave me a subscription to Popular Science around 1960 when I was nine years old. I absolutely LOVED the magazine and kept my subscription going for probably ten years. All the old issues were at Mom & Dad’s place and they must have sold them at a garage sale when they were downsizing around 1990.
I remember spending break time at the University going through the library stacks and looking at old magazines. I was thrilled to find Popular Science mags going back to around 1900. It was so cool to read about what was high-tech 70 years before my university time.
Do you remember the story about the guy who outfitted his Thunderbird with a full set of instruments, so the dashboard looked like the engineer’s console on a B-29?
I remember he had brake temperature gauges, one for each wheel.
“Went woke went broke”
I stopped reading it exactly for this reason.
Where will The Rosicrucians advertise for new converts?
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