July 1966 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
Admittedly, I needed to look
up the meaning of "connubial" when seeing the title of this tongue-in-cheek article
by Carl Kohler in the July 1969 issue of Popular Electronics magazine. Nobody
knows for sure whether the over-enthusiastic starring male in the series of techie stories
that ran in Popular Electronics magazine in the 1950s was actually Carl himself or an
alter ego version of himself. Carl was also the artist of numerous tech-related comics.
His wife, affectionately referred to as "Old Big Eyes" and a certified "lady-telepath"
is always quick to recognize the impending disaster about to ensue, often with her as
an unwilling participant. This episode deviates a bit from the already-married type to
report on the exploits of born loser Otto Tronix.
The Connubially-Oriented Computer of Otto Tronix
Story and Illustrations By Carl Kohler
Once upon a time and place there lived a chronically-shy person named Otto Tronix.
Otto was exceptionally brilliant in things electronic but woefully lacking in confidence
where members of the opposite sex were concerned. His pathetic shyness was due, in part,
to the fact that - having been raised in an all-male orphanage - Otto's initial contact
with girls hadn't been made until he was 34 years old. Consequently, long after he'd
embarked on a highly successful career as a Communications Theorist, Otto's life was
still a relatively lonely one.
As long as he was only conscious of matters electronic, Otto behaved beautifully-speaking
articulately, impressively, and knowledgeably in a voice both cultured and pleasant.
Faced by a member of the opposite sex, however, he instantaneously gave every sign of
mental retardation complicated by symptoms of mild terror and utter confusion, usually
expressed in a staccato of squeaks that would've shamed a tenor mouse.
Otto's shyness threatened to restrict his entire future to long evenings devoted to
sundry electronic projects, and his heretofore astoundingly brilliant work as a Communications
Theorist began to show his inner stresses and strains. Many were the days when he was
actually slow in differentiating a standard Hydronics Velociter from a simple 75-meter
Finally, when Otto was thinking seriously about investigating the possible need for
trained Communications Theorists in monasteries, a Good Friend inadvertently brought
a solution to Otto's morbid and seemingly hopeless situation.
A good friend inadvertently brought a solution to Otto's seemingly
"You oughta try one of them Scientific Marriage outfits, man," the Good Friend babbled
happily. "That's how Emma and me found each other! It's the only way to find a wife nowadays!
Takes all the blind chance outa the whole bit, y'know?"
"It does?" Otto murmured.
"Sure! According to the Scientific Selection File on our Correlation & Validation
Ratios, me and Emma got it made in all them areas where it really counts! I mean, like
there's no gnawing-type doubts about our Dominant Leadership and Dependent Suggestibility
Factors! We know where we stand in all that old static, man!"
"You're pretty happy, huh?" Sheer envy flowed through poor Otto's love-starved emptiness.
"Naw, we loathe each other, but a grand's worth of Statistical Analysis, Probability
Graphs, and Interpersonal Compatibility Audits say we're right for one another - and
who's gonna argue with them psychology experts now that the bill's paid?"
It gave Otto pause for thought indeed.
So enchanted was Otto by the possibilities this concept excited within his technically
alert mind that he immediately applied for his annual vacation and retired to his dwelling
- a garish apartment house in one of the better Southern California neighborhoods - where
he began sitting moodily beside the huge, dollar-sign-shaped pool under the smog-filtered
sunlight, cogitating upon the idea of, perhaps, building a Computer that would eliminate
the time and testing factors while offering the swiftest, most efficient method of locating
the right girl to share his life. He knew his Computer would have to be a radical departure
from all the commonly accepted notions of Scientific Marriage Investigating - mainly
because Otto was not only terribly shy, be was also militantly independent and more than
a little original.
"By heavens," he muttered determinedly, "my Tronix Tru-Luv Tester will revolutionize
the entire field - if it works! It'll not only select the right kind of wife for me but
it'll also provide me with the right kind of profits from leases and royalties! A winning
combination if I ever saw one forming within the unprinted circuits of my mind!"
To celebrate the emergence of this brilliant idea, he poured himself a generously-fortified
drink, and was gleefully sipping it when the luscious and outrageously constructed Redhead
who occupied the apartment opposite Otto's came switching into the patio, moving more
hippily than nature had intended she should but inspired by the sight of Otto sitting
poolside. Otto froze at the sight of her.
"Hi, Genius-boy!" purred the Redhead.
"Looks like you've decided to come out of your shell and join the human race. Which
is just marvy because I've had eyes for the likes of you ever since you set foot on the
She stopped, a mere twenty feet distant, but still moving here and there in a manner
"Guk!" said Otto, blushing furiously. "Man, that's the wildest thing I've ever heard!"
"All I have to do now is ... "
"Guk-Guggity-Guk!" Otto politely stuttered, his twitching vocal chords fighting desperately
to convey the blazing sense of welcome her presence sparked, and failing to accomplish
more than spewed nonsense sounds.
"You're cute!" the Redhead decided aloud, gliding toward him. "Mysterious, too!"
"G-G-Guk!" wailed Otto, sprinting for the safety and silence of his own apartment,
where he huddled in convulsive despair and misery.
Burying himself in the labor of building the Computer helped ease his shame and the
pain of loneliness as well as accelerate the construction process - and the entire unit
was completed in less than a week. Consisting of items and components chosen from the
depths of Otto's fantastic wellspring of electronic know-how - which had been gradually
seeping into his consciousness from the long-ago day when he'd created a carbon resistor
from pencil leads and old dry-battery anodes to the recent past when he'd received a
special company award for his thoughtful paper, "Generating Plasmonic Signals Via the
Use of Denture Plates" - the Tru-Luv Tester closely resembled a hi-fi set that thought
itself a commercial jukebox. Which was not accidental since mass-production problems
were clearly alive in Otto's planning throughout the entire designing period (ten hours
spent hunched over a breadboard propped against a stack of books such as Super-Advanced
Boolean Algebra For Restless Neurotics, Galena Crystal Theory & Application For Those
Who Refute Current Practices, and Servomechanisms Are Something Else If Improperly Installed.
Operational procedure was simplicity itself. Once a subject was positioned before
the Reception Screen and a button depressed, activating a Receive System, the Tester
scanned the subject - electro-optically and electro-telepathically absorbing every aspect
of the subject until the subject's personality and appearance factors had been fully
established - and then automatically converted to an Analyze System, sending the information
through sundry channels until the factors had been coded, recoded, decoded, evaluated,
compared to norms installed previously (Otto's tastes and hopes), and diverting the refined
data to myriad Memory Banks for future reference. At this point the Tester competently
turned itself off.
Otto stopped dancing.
When the Transmit System button was depressed, the Tester's built-in Audio-Expression
mechanisms immediately began delivering salient facts from the Memory Banks, routing
them through the Risk Calculator and the Interpersonality Capacitor, and eventually sending
immensely condensed evaluations over a series of interlocking circuits to the Phase &
Phrase Selector which was cunningly adapted to the Audio-Expression Speaker which, in
turn, broadcast aloud clear-cut statements of scientific opinion.
Otto now tested the Tester by slyly depressing the On-Receive button shortly before
the cleaning-lady arrived to perform. her regular duties.
Hearing the faint hum of electronic activity, the cleaning-lady wandered over to the
Tester - unaware that she was stationed before an instrument that was industriously measuring
her as she stood there glaring suspiciously at the gleaming steel cabinet which housed
No sooner had she departed than Otto re-entered his apartment (he'd been hiding in
a large planter just outside a back window) and activated the Transmit System.
The loudspeaker boomed: Subject is not your type. She's too old for you. She's married
to someone else. She thinks you are some kind of foreign spy engaged in deadly research.
The Tester went silent.
"Boy!" breathed Otto. "Have I ever hit the old jackpot! This baby'll find me exactly
the kind of girl I'll want to marry!"He pranced around the Tester, joyously gyrating
in a victory dance of triumph. "All I have to do now is start bringing girls in here
and let the Tester -"
Otto stopped dancing. Suddenly, the gap in his plan was painfully obvious. "Oh, no!"
he cried, an agony of disappointment wrenching the joy and happiness from his mind. "I'm
too shy to invite girls over here! The whole idea is down the tubes! Utter Failure! Waste
Of Time, Energy & Materials! I oughta get drunk!"
Finding that his own supply of potables was practically non-existent, Otto went down
to the corner tavern and quietly huddled in the most isolated booth in the darkest corner
- ordering one round after another from the bar by hand-signals.
Sleepily, she blushed at him.
Four hours of this steady beverage intaking and he was a new man. More stoned than
an Irish wall, he returned to the apartment house, singing bawdy mathematical equations
set to the off-key melodies learned in his far-distant childhood and vaguely groping
in the dim light of the patio for his apartment doorway.
Inside the apartment, he stumbled woozily over to the Tester. Bitterly, he jabbed
the Receive System button, hearing the instrument "hum up" and knowing it was vainly
trying to absorb male-gender data despite the fact that it had only been developed to
successfully take in information when the subject was female-gender.
"I hope you blow up in my stupid face!" wailed Otto. "It'd serve me right for trying
to be so smart!"
The Tester went silent.
Otto violently depressed the Transmit System button, closing his eyes and awaiting
the electronic devastation he knew was almost certain to follow as the instrument exploded
its circuitry once electrical frustration overlapped and backwashed its innards.
"Subject is quite suitable!" boomed the Tester. "Single employed in compatible work
and possessed of interests almost identical to needed elements of computed standard."
Otto opened his eyes, bewildered. "Subject constitutes exact type sought to meet every
listed requirement. Subject is under the influence of al -"
"What's going on, here, anyway?" Otto shouted. Your voice has changed!"
That's when he suddenly saw the Brunette Doll.
She stood in a bedroom doorway, sleepily staring at him and shyly adjusting her horn-rimmed
glasses which somehow went well with the rather skimpy shortie-nightie that accentuated
her compactly curved little figure.
"On, good qrief!" groaned Otto thickly. "I'm in the wrong apartment!"
His eyes reluctantly went back to the Tester which was still evaluating. "B-But if
I'm in the wrong apartment," he gasped, "how come this gismo is -
He glanced at the Brunette in confusion.
She blushed. Otto blushed.
"G-G-G-G-GUK!" said the Brunette nervously.
Posted March 21, 2018