Articles by Clive Thompson

The Original Selfie Craze Was the Mirror

Today’s social media obsession has its roots in the development centuries ago of the reflective material

Inupiaq goggles carved from baleen set against a Tunumiit (East Greenland Eskimo) woman’s sealskin parka. Both are from the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian.

These Snow Goggles Demonstrate Thousands of Years of Indigenous Ingenuity

Made in Alaska and fashioned to protect against snow glare, the eyewear was carved from whale baleen circa 1890

E-scooters swarm city streets, but their advent is far from the first personal mobility revolution America has seen.

What the Fight Over Scooters Has in Common With the 19th-Century Battle Over Bicycles

The two-wheelers revolutionized personal transport—and led to surprising societal changes

American Ingenuity Awards

Inventor Alex Kipman's Grand Vision for How Holograms Will Change Our Lives

The designer behind Microsoft's HoloLens 2 predicts a future driven by augmented reality

At the apex of the Walkman craze, 1987 to ’97, the number of people who reported that they walked for exercise rose by 
30 percent.

The Walkman's Invention 40 Years Ago Launched a Cultural Revolution

In 1979, the new device forever changed the way we listened to music

Women were involved with the computing field from its earliest days.

Women Who Shaped History

The Gendered History of Human Computers

It's ironic that women today must fight for equality in Silicon Valley. After all, their math skills helped launch the digital age

Fingerprinting became widespread in the early 20th century.

The Myth of Fingerprints

Police today increasingly embrace DNA tests as the ultimate crime-fighting tool. They once felt the same way about fingerprinting

What the Popularity of 'Fortnite' Has in Common With the 20th Century Pinball Craze

Long before parents freaked over the ubiquitous video game, they flipped out over another newfangled fad

What the Founding Fathers' Money Problems Can Teach Us About Bitcoin

The challenges faced by the likes of Ben Franklin have a number of parallels to today’s cryptocurrency boom

Jim Naughten’s 2017 stereograph, The Toucans, mimics the look of a Victorian image.

Stereographs Were the Original Virtual Reality

The shocking power of immersing oneself in another world was all the buzz once before—about 150 years ago

From Ptolemy to GPS, the Brief History of Maps

We now have the whole world in our hands, but how did we get here?

When Robots Take All of Our Jobs, Remember the Luddites

What a 19th-century rebellion against automation can teach us about the coming war in the job market

A map shows the distribution of the slave population in the Southern states of the United States, based on the 1860 census.

History of Now

The Surprising History of the Infographic

Early iterations saved soldiers' lives, debunked myths about slavery and helped Americans settle the frontier

For Those Clutching Pearls Over Buzzfeed: A History of Newspapers Reveals That It's Always Been This Way

From user-generated content to political screeds, the future of news happens to look a lot like the past

Texting is blamed for ruining personal discourse and common courtesy.

Texting Isn’t the First New Technology Thought to Impair Social Skills

When Alexander Graham Bell introduced the telephone, skeptics worried about how it might affect people’s interactions

Steve Wozniak's Apple I Booted Up a Tech Revolution

With only a circuit board, keyboard and tiny, blurry monitor, the circa 1975 computer looks crude by today’s standards

How the Phonograph Changed Music Forever

Much like streaming music services today are reshaping our relationship with music, Edison's invention redefined the entire industry

The Hyperloop Will Be Only the Latest Innovation That's Pretty Much a Series of Tubes

The idea of using pneumatics to send objects has been around for ages. But people?

Xerox founder Joe Wilson with the 914, which could make copies up to 9 by 14 inches.

How the Photocopier Changed the Way We Worked—and Played

Decades before 3-D printers brought manufacturing closer to home, copiers transformed offices, politics and art

Middle-class families scooped up affordable and speedy Model Ts. As they began to race through the streets, they ran headlong into pedestrians—with lethal results.

When Pedestrians Ruled the Streets

The driverless car may take a while to catch on—just as the automobile did a century ago

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