Saturday, November 19, 2016

Furtwangler and the Magic Brain Guy

Been thinking more about that Magic Brain that Putnam was describing.  I wonder if anyone noticed this at the time...

The "Magic Brain" was an RCA Victor ad concept, a platform touting an exciting new technology that allowed you to listen, hands-free, to over two hours of phonograph music.  (A 78 rpm side maxes out at about 12 minutes.)  Their symbol was this little conductor guy.

(The invention of the airbrush really revolutionized commercial art, didn't it?  This is from 1942.  Look at that impervious plexiglass dome protecting your records, and his expression of stoic confidence, bathed in the honest, unforgiving light of the future.)

Wilhelm Furtwangler was a celebrity conductor back then-- toured the world putting on musical extravaganzas, kind of like a 1930's rock star, very prominent.  Especially in regard to his cranium.  Lots of room for music to bounce around up there.  He started out with a shock of red, bushy hair but after it burned off, he became increasingly gaunt, his great celestial brow a symbol of his look, like Lennie Bernstein's sneakers.

So when RCA's ad agency designed their futuristic jukebox head, this is what I see:
Furtwangler-in-a-box?  Sounds great!  That gaggle of Park Avenue swells seem to think so, too.  Even though they can't quite tell why.  (It's subliminal Madison Avenue mojo, circa 1940's.)