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Thursday, June 16, 2022

Watch Mr. Wizard! 1952 Program on Electromagnetism. And more! (video)

Wow.  This is a very thought provoking program.  It is kind of like "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood," but with science. The lessons provided by Mr. Wizard are really good, but one shudders to think about doing the these experiments with kids (or even with adults!) in today's world.  Here are a few of things that would cause trouble today:  

-- Liquid mercury.  
-- A big power supply. ("Here Willy, you hold the positive terminal.") 
-- Even the sprinkling of iron filings would probably require masks at a minimum.  
-- In the end, letting poor Willy drop to the floor when Betsy turns off the electromagnet that was holding his swing in the air.  
-- And of course, poor old Mr. Wizard's affinity for the kids would stir suspicions. 

We also see a sad and very early example of the influence of advertisers and what they call today "product placement."  Note the fairly obvious plug (via Morse Code!) for breakfast cereal.  In the credits you will see that the program was sponsored by "The Cereal Institute."  What next kids?  Cigarettes? 

But there is a lot of virtue in this program:  The development of the telegraph key, Morse Code,  CW sidetone.  Unlike many of the Box Top Extras of today, young Betsy was not afraid to wind a coil.   

We should all embrace the spirit of Mr. Wizard.  We are, after all, the International Brotherhood of Electronic WIZARDS!  These experiments reminded me a lot of the Trivial Electric Motor that my son Billy and I made when he was around Willy's age (thanks for the idea Alan Yates).  

Thanks to Chuck KF8TI for alerting us to this show.  Chuck says this program was an early influence on him, and was one of the things that provided a connection between the theory he was learning in college and the real world of electronic devices. 

Many more great programs like this can be found on Mr. Wizard's YouTube Channel: 
https://www.youtube.com/user/MrWizardStudios   Please let us know if you find other videos (on this channel or elsewhere)  that will be of special interest to the IBEW. 

Finally, color TV in 1952?  That seems a bit early for color.  What do you folks think was happening here? 


  1. Don Herbert was my hero growing up. It was Mr Wizard that stimulated my interest in the sciences and my ultimate career in Electrical Engineering, the Electrical Power Industry and Amateur Radio. I repeated many of his experiments in Sixth grade “Show and Tell” and expanded on them in my school Science Fairs winning several awards. Back then a kid had access to things and materials that today are now illegal without Federal licensing or would banned outright in a public school. Thanks for refreshing this old memory into my youthful years mixing chemicals, snatching neon sign transformers off Bar roofs, building rockets from steel pipe and black powder, and many other things my parents never knew.

  2. In 1952 the program may have been shot in color on film and aired as B&W. I think it is more likely that someone colorized the B&W original based upon colors in the later years.


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