Man and Machines

vintage illustration machine and working man 1930s

Illustration from an article entitled The Machine and the Depression” February 1933 issue of “Everyday Science and Mechanics”

Are machines after your job?

A struggling middle class grappling with unemployment, frets over headlines warning “How Technology is Destroying Jobs!”

Sounds familiar, but the warning is from 1933.

Looking to place the blame of the economic woes of the Great Depression on something, many well-informed people in the 1930’s pointed to the proliferation of machines usurping jobs from needy men.

Promising to debunk technocracy, an article entitled “The Machine and the Depression” ran in February 1933 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics.

Would “Machine Man” make the working man an endangered species?

“Horsefeathers!” the article claimed.


vintage illustration Economy and Machines

Vintage illustration from an article entitled The Machine and the Depression February 1933 issue of “Everyday Science and Mechanics”

“Lets not forget,” writes Hugo Gernsback the editor of the magazine and author of this piece, “ that the machine itself creates employment which would otherwise not be there.”

“Take such a recent addition as the radio industry, for instance, which was created out of the blue sky”.

It goes on to explain:

“It was not existent before 1920 because there was no broadcasting. Immediately it gave employment to literally millions of workers who would not have been employed otherwise. The same is true of electricity and the automobile.”


business man  automation

Automation 1963


Little solace to future generations of workers who continued to worry they would soon be an endangered species with each new technology.

Whether it’s Mad Men’s Don Draper contemplating his own impending obsolescence as a behemoth computer is installed in his 1969 office, or today’s middle class worrying whether we have mechanized and computerized ourselves into obsolescence, in the age-old race against the machine, man is always in fear of losing.


© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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