Cheeseburger Gothic

Things from the future past

Posted March 29 by John Birmingham

I've been working with Jason Lambright and Dirk de Jager on the next AoT novel and recently had them give some thinking time over to what sort of uptime tech might get quickly adapted and pushed out to the military by the mid 1950s.

I've also been thinking about consumer tech, but that's a different area.

Below is a far from comprehensive list of Dirk and Jason’s goodie bag. Overnight, Dirk sent me a some more thoughts about the whole process:

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something in NATO Olive

There is something about tinkering with the past and the all-encompassing theme of these books namely “What if?”. Oh, let me introduce myself first: my name is Dirk and I am one of the minions in JB’s sweatshop doing research and contributing a few words and ideas.

We have been thinking up a nice little scenario and already are on track for a great addition to the series. And we thought up on most of the toys we will be using in this book. Things like the HK 416 assault rifle, an update M60 main battle tank and the F-15 Eagle. But even three decent minds can forget something.

So, in the ye old and trusted Burger tradition we present to you The Pepsi Challenge. For this we have devised two categories:

First category:

Existing weapon, procedure of tech thingie. For this you may scowler the interwebs and the Pedia of Wiki for something cool. Couple of rules: it must be able to be build by mid 70s technology and be feasible to be used in the field and/or in daily life. And off course we haven’t used it already. We will be replying to each and every post, so you can send in another cool thing if we have already come up with one of those.

Second category:

Made up weapon, procedure of tech thingie with a degree of realism. So, no unicorn fart powered thermo nuclear tipped glidebombs or ICBM launching torpedoes. Bonus points can be gathered for things that are especially sneaky. For mentioned rules on the tech base also apply.

The prize: the two winners will get a cameo in 3.1. We can’t promise though you won’t be overrun by a speeding T-72 tank, get blown up by an incoming mortar shell or sleep with the fishes on the end of your paragraph. But if the input is good, we will do our best …

The fine print: the intellectual property will be become owned by Slim Jim Enterprises and the proceeds of these will be misused by Mr. Davidson on procuring dames and probably Columbian’s finest. But as a fan of the series you will be fine by that.

And if and when this post hits 50 replies, Jason and I will waterboard JB into publishing a new snippet of the book on the channel. So, thinking caps on chaps and chapettes and surprise us. We know you can …

And the list so far...

Gerber multitool
Zip ties
Permethrin (An insecticide and medicated ointment for treating nasty inset bites)
Blood type ID patches
Baby Wipes
IZLID (laser designator)
The metric system! (But not in the US, of course, unless Kolhammer gets his way via some diabolical Quiet Room project).
Improved First Aid Kits, training, the concept of "the golden hour"
Medevac, casevac
Quick Clot powder, Combat gauze (jam into wounds)
Combat Application Tourniquet
Israeli pressure bandage
Zodiac boats
Suppressed weapons
Katadyn water filters
V-40 grenade (with reliable fuse)
Night vision goggles. (Curious to see just how far those would advance in ten years, given the very obvious advantages to whichever side got the lead).
Flameless ration heaters
Thermals
Jungle Boots, Vietnam style (current issue)
Glow sticks
GPS navigation tools (Again, this is one, as we've seen in out TL, with massive civilian commercial applications. I suspect it would advance very quickly, along with satellite tech in general)
Black Hornet PD-100 mini recon drone
Improved maps, NVG readable
Improved socks, dacron mix, silver thread
Nicotine gum with vitamin C
Dextrose energy tablets, mixes
Power inverters for rough field power sources
Mini solar panels
Wind up propaganda radios, mini, air-droppable, tuned to VOA
JTLV
Armored glass for vehicles
Slat armor, Hesco basket mesh
Hesco baskets
Sawzall, battery powered
RPO-A-SHMEL "Bumblebee" RPG Flamethrower (M202)
Water powered field generator
Folding rubber cups
MP-5k
FLIR

69 Responses to ‘ Things from the future past’

jason would have you know...

Posted March 29
Velcro
Solar panels
GM Crops
Hydrogen to power vehicles (particularly ships)

Dirk mutters...

Posted March 29
Velcro and Solar panels are already in the book. GM crops and Gas to Liquid are great options. I'll chalk you down for one.

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted March 29
Post it notes

Dirk would have you know...

Posted March 29
Great!

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
Poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide – Kevlar

Dirk asserts...

Posted March 29
Is already in the book.

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted March 29
Exoskeletons

A waterboarding machine

Dirk swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
First DARPA exoskeletons were built on 80s tech. And we have an interrogation scene in the book (if that stays in) that even goes one step further.

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted March 29
Is the 70s limitation just to give room to move in any future books?

I still maintain that a full set of (at least) US patents and applications would have been contained in the ship's information store, and some of those haven't even been applied for yet. Plus all the other non patent technical disclosures. You're losing 40 years of even relatively simple technological advancement.

Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted March 29
you can find me response a little more down on this page.

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balders mumbles...

Posted March 29
3D Manufacturing
Filament (Plastics, rubbers, etc)
Sintered Laser (Metals, etc)
Improved battery technology
LiPo
NiMH
LiIon
High powered LED lighting
Low power portable computing
Internet (I cant remember in the books if it was being rolled out to public - or if it was just military
Cat pictures
Gig Economy (not a physical thing)
Augmented Reality (its probably already in the books)

Dirk swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
Cat or CAD pictures? :D

I like the Sintered laser and the batteries, I'll chalk you up for that one.

balders would have you know...

Posted March 29
cat pictures - you know the 95% of the 5% of the internet that isn't porn - everyone loves good cat pictures


I think that the low power / more efficient electronics would have a huge boost especially in terms of miniaturization, they wouldn't be able to produce a chip on a 7nm die, but they'd be able to implement a bunch of lessons learned and the time to get down to what we are producing these days would greatly reduced

Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted March 29
On the one hand we would keep our brave new world clean of these excesses, but you have a point. Let me enlighten you however what the internet would look like in our little world.

Computers are expensive, so most of those you would find in the military, government, large companies and in academia. Think 80286s from the late 80s, though there is a section in the book working with reversed engineered Raspberry Pi's in the book running on Ubuntu/Linux. So it's more a 70s/80s style of computer use. Databases, communications, bookkeeping those kind of applications.

Digital pictures are another point: sure first gen will be in spy satellites, but for taking snaps we would go for Polaroid camera's. So cat pics could happen, but more or less on a physical company whiteboard then on the internet.

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pedrogb mumbles...

Posted March 29
The taser. With two settings. Stun. Kill

Dirk swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
Was already in the first series but I like the idea :)

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Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted March 29
The 70s tech line is indeed a threshold intended to give us wiggleroom for future books and not to make the conflict between the Warsaw Pact and NATO too one sided. A more then 15 year tech gap would make for very short books ...

But you also have to factor in the tech/manufacturing base and economic constraints in our alternate 50s and for example multi year material research you have to do to make certain kinds of things. For example we are not using Chobham or Burlington armor for tanks, haven't fielded the F-35 or gone for nuclear powered aircraft carriers in 3.1. We tried to strike a balance on what we could get into the field in sufficient numbers, not going for the ultimate but for what would have been more then good enough.

True there will be things even more advanced known already, but that insight isn't lost. It's still on a shelf waiting for the industrial base to catch up to that.

jl mutters...

Posted March 29
Ditto what Dirk says.

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she_jedi mutters...

Posted March 29
Not sure if this is in the books already but microwave ovens?

Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
They can have microwave ovens off '70s tech but you have to wait until 1985 for custom kitchen deliveray-ay-ayys.

Dirk swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
There are microwave ovens (even affordable ones) and even custom kitchens ;) courtesy of a company that runs on the IKEA principle. And that wasn't even a stretch as the first ones were sold in our time even as early as 1946.

Same would go for fridges and freezers, vacuumcleaners and washing-machines and even dishwashers. The constraints would have been more economical (can we afford them on mostly the husbands wage?) and partly cultural. The second feminist wave would have come a little more early (the pill is on the market), but most especially Western European and for example Australian households would have been more paternalistic.
As a base we took this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBB7YEbIYl8

But it's food for thought: what would a typical day for a lets say 27 year old She Jedi in our 1955 would have looked like?

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted March 29
I think there's a whole section somewhere about cheap Russian microwave ovens.

Dirk asserts...

Posted March 29
*nods*

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted March 29
Doesn't fit in the weapon category but what about Gore-Tex?

Dirk asserts...

Posted March 29
Great, it is in the book but I will chalk you down for one.

jl asserts...

Posted March 29
Early MOLLE is in there, too.

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Bondiboy66 mumbles...

Posted March 29
FRED - the Fucking Ridiculous Eating Device. Featured in Australian rat packs since at least the 70s. Bit bigger than the American rat pack tin opener, with a built in rudimentary spoon. I still have a few in the kitchen drawer!

In a food related vein, tinned rats replaced with soft packaging ala current Aust and US rat packs/MREs.

If we are potentially going for newish Infantry weapons, perhaps something like the old Stoner Weapons System, where there is a basic working parts unit that can fit with different barrels, feed methods (belts or mags), grips, butts, yada yada as required, and all parts are interchangeable.

Can't think of anything else just yet....

Dirk ducks in to say...

Posted March 29
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Ration_Eating_Device

I like it!

On weapons we went for a standardized mix of trusted ones that could have been made on the tech bases. We took a serious look at the Stoner, but dropped that. It would have been too much of a compromise. Our mix however is NATO wide so for example a French made barrel would fit a Swedish made weapon. The mix is made up from the following:

Pistol: 9mm Glock 17
SMG: 9mm Uzi (MP5 for certain special forces)
AR: 5.56mm HK 416 (which will go under a few names M4A2, G38 etc.) for grenadiers with an underslung M320 grenadelauncher
SAW: 5.56mm FN Minimi (M249 in US service)
GPMG: 7.62mm FN MAG (M240 and L7)
HMG: .50 Browning M2

I have to give a shout out to Ian McCulloms excellent youtube channel Forgotten Weapons https://www.youtube.com/user/ForgottenWeapons which has been a great source of info.

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Keith is gonna tell you...

Posted March 29
Cat 1:

Space blanket.
Hang-Up Parachute Release Assembly.
Light Marker Distress.
Aluminium foil.

Cat 2:

Hot Spot Channel:

When soldiers are patrolling in the jungle, or jungle-like conditions, their radio signal will be severely hindered or destroyed by the dense foliage. But not with the Hot Spot Channel! The Hot Spot Channel will shoot a secure signal straight up through the foliage from which the patrol can communicate (for dustoff, fire support, resupply etc.). The HQ element can easily communicate with the patrol until the Hot Spot Channel is deactivated.

How does it work? Well, let us explain by saying: Hahaha, you don't want to know. No, seriously, you leave the technology up to us, let's just say we hope you already have kids.

Dirk ducks in to say...

Posted March 29
I'll chalk you down for the space blanket and the Parachute release. "Tin foil" was already in use in our time but that's an honorable mention.

And the Hotspot channel is cool, we are a little short on jungle in book 1, but something like that will find a place in future books.

Keith mutters...

Posted April 2
Too easy. Thanks, Dirk.

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Phil puts forth...

Posted March 29
Can't remember if it's in the books or not but rapid turnaround DNA testing. I'm thinking the uptimers wouldn't be keen on exposure to certain infections that were running around at the time. Also genealogical testing may be handy to prevent accidentally sleeping with your great-grandmother, although I'm sure some perverts would want to use it the other way around

Dirk swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
Paul Brasch put a lot of Reichsmarks in these kinda things in the first series. It will take though a lot of computing power so it's probably only reserved at the moment to the rich and famous and academic hospitals. But the idea is cool!

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Phil puts forth...

Posted March 29
Can't remember if it's in the books or not but rapid turnaround DNA testing. I'm thinking the uptimers wouldn't be keen on exposure to certain infections that were running around at the time. Also genealogical testing may be handy to prevent accidentally sleeping with your great-grandmother, although I'm sure some perverts would want to use it the other way around

jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
Cheap paternity tests, to be found at the local pharmacy. What a great disruptor.

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Oldy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
Can't WAIT
Can't WAIT
CANNOT WAIT!

AoT was my gateway drug into JB minionhood. That cover combined all the shit I loved - Clancyesque, Military Silhouettes, Time Travel, and the 2.1 thing.

But... who's working on Time Travel? They know it's a reality...

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted March 29
Einstein.

Dirk puts forth...

Posted March 29
There will be research on that field. Einstein and a young Stephen Hawking will be decimating the footage with an attitude of "WTF happened?"

But there are a few things barring it. First one is money. There are a lot of things that will spring fruit for a lot less money. Eradication of polio for example and alternate energy. The space race, though with Stalin's hammer project eating up most of the means for the Soviet space program, that will be a little more balanced.

Secondly what if the Manning Pope experiment was a fluke? Can we reliably bring back the 21C's back to exactly where they came from, and what kinda distorted world will they find there? And how long will the research take? Wouldn't they not all be dead before it is feasible?

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tqft asserts...

Posted March 29
Double walled stainless steel thermos - $9.99 from Aldi
Insulated shopping bag - $1 or 2 from local supermarket

Dirk asserts...

Posted March 29
Love both of them!

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jl asserts...

Posted March 29
This thread is going nuts- sweet. Lemme throw in a couple more things that are indispensable today but weren't obvious way back when.

Firefly IR beacon
Flash-bang
PLB (Personal Locator Beacon, think IFF for grunts)
Tritium illuminated compass (SANDY 183)
SAM splint (flexible splint)
AN/PEQ 2
SureFire flashlight
Nomex Combat Gloves

jl mutters...

Posted March 29
Oh yeah, this is implied but I'll mention it specifically- the MIL STD 1913 Picatinny rail.

Dirk asserts...

Posted March 29
Ok, I'll drop in a guilty pleasure of mine: the 2014 Italian MRE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GowFRT19yok and the 2018 MRE #23 of the US army https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_sY-nJ179U

jl reckons...

Posted March 29
MREs, while perhaps a standard format, can't really be standardized across the board. Each country has its own prefs- imagine giving Yanks kippers, for example.

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rschappe puts forth...

Posted March 29
Manned space flight
Satellites, military recon

Dirk is gonna tell you...

Posted March 30
Bless you, you have at least 3 novels to pick up on:

Sats are in this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07934VNLW

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 30
Does Harry miss Meghan?

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Steve asserts...

Posted March 30
How about logistics, goddamit? Nothing happens without logistics.

Here is my list of suggestions, for starters:

Standard size pallets and shipping containers
Forklifts and lift trucks
RO-RO ships
NATO stock numbers
Bar codes
RFID tags
Total Quality Management in manufacturing (Deming is already developing this in the 1940s)
Six Sigma continuous improvement and defect reduction
Gantt charts
Find Jack Dorsey’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s great grandparents and kill them all – you’ll save millions of hours of lost productivity

jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 30
You are quite right. RO-RO and shipping containers are already pieces of the puzzle, the rest can be put in the mix.

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Myriads mutters...

Posted March 30
Nail Guns
Bio-Organic insulation (Mushroom based)
Cheap digital watches (Analog dies decades earlier)
Ceramic technologies (starting with blades)
Disposable razors
Disposable Diapers
"Day After" pills for pregnancy prevention
Mass produced cheep 'roller ball' style pens.

Concepts

Modern psychological trauma therapies
"The Joy of Sex" (Popular sex guide comes sooner as birth control has)
Urban planning of the 'walking downtown' style
Understanding of the effect of 'Big Box' chain style corporations and the effects they cause.
TMZ style pop-culture reporting. (And celebrity culture in toto)

That should have something of use in there.

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Dirk asserts...

Posted March 30
I'll chalk you down for the Bic pen Myriads. Urban planning is already in the book, though more bicycle based in Western Europe with good public transport.

Note to self: put the Evian in the winecooler and pre-heat the Egyptian cotton towels. At GWC we pride ourselves in adding a touch of class to torture ...

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 30
Re: surgical interventions, tape & staples replacing some external sutures. Sodium & potassium monitoring. Partial blood products. Informed consent. 5 rights with medication; right patient, right time, right drug, right dose, right delivery.

One of the most interesting things in WoC was the transplanted social contexts ot up timers, feminism, LGBTQ, & race were discussed, but not the Green movement.
Would it be possible to kick off the Green Movement without Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, without the blights of oil spills, dead rivers, introduced species. Or would we accelerate Pell Mell into a hellscape of neonicanatoids, organochlorines, and hormone disrupters?

Dirk would have you know...

Posted March 31
Excellent suggestions on the medical side of things NBlob, I will chalk you down for those.

On the environmental issues, I am writing at the moment a text that I will ask John to post here on the Burger as a separate blog post. What you are pointing out here has that kind of merit.

jl puts forth...

Posted March 31
I'd think the medical field would explode with the wealth of information brought by the Fleet.

Ask the residents of Pittsburgh circa 1944 whether they'd like a cleaner life- certainly, but they'd want work, too. There'd have to be a balance struck. With foreknowledge of long-term environmental effects real headway could be made much sooner.

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Brother PorkChop puts forth...

Posted March 31
CBU-55s Thermobarics
OTH / BTH Radar systems
Claymores
Cheesewizz
WD-40
Super Glue

Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted March 31
I'll chalk you down for the WD40. We have done one better on the CBU-55 ... :) Rest is in the book.

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Naut mutters...

Posted April 1
Computer socks
Hypercolour T-shirts
Punkrock

jl ducks in to say...

Posted April 1
The Sex Pistols come early.

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jd quinty mutters...

Posted April 2
I can't remember if Boxer Briefs, introduced in the 90s, were mentioned in the books (I can remember uptime suit patterns were) but I bet they would be widely distributed.
CL-84 Dynavert, a successful but unmarketable Canadian V-TOL prototype from the 70s, I imagine it beefed up in a half-measured attempt to turn it into an osprey.
Teflon coating.

jl reckons...

Posted April 2
You learn something new every day, that CL-84 was ahead of its time. Dirk, you're keeping score, bud.

Boxer shorts per se have been around for a while, but you have a point with boxer briefs. Yeah, they'd prob be a hit, far better than the old "tighty whities"

Another point for teflon coating.

Dirk puts forth...

Posted April 2
I am keeping score ;) I was composing an answer to both She Jedi and Nblob, which took me a little longer than I anticipated.

The CL-84 was new to me, tough I have studied the DO-31 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_31 ). I'll keep both of them in mind.

To the boxers (yes good one) I would add the humble thong then as well though that kind of undergarment would create quit a stir in for example Francist Spain.

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Therbs reckons...

Posted April 2
Light weight, durable tent / tarp/ hammock/ bivvy material (cuben fibre / dyneema composite fabric)
Titanium mess gear (pot, spork/spoon etc)
Sawyer Micro squeeze water filter (smaller, lighter)

Was looking at this stuff for Zero Day Code fanfic


Dirk puts forth...

Posted April 2
I like the tent stuff.

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Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted April 2
Contact lenses
Polarized lenses
105mm Recoilless Rifles (a personal fave)

Dirk asserts...

Posted April 2
contact lenses are in. The RR's are already obsolete in the series cause of wireguided missiles introduced in 2.3.

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jd quinty puts forth...

Posted April 2
earpieces, earbuds (but the crummy kind that existed in the 90s), sony walkman-style headphones (with the exposed foam) and the 3.5mm headphone jack (did this 2024 also see the end of the 3.5mm jack?)

Betamax and music/data compact cassettes. 8 Inch floppy disks.

CCTV cameras.

High Pressure Sodium Lights (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_street_lighting_in_the_United_States#High_pressure_sodium)

Halogen headlamps (is this 50s US just as weird with their headlights compared with the rest of Europe from the 40s-80s? Where at one point they would only permit only two types of rectangular headlights in the 70s and 80s?)


Dirk mutters...

Posted April 3
I'll chalk you down for the low end earphones. Rumor has it that on the 1956 CES - to be held at Madison Square Garden - RCA will introduce 6-track, following Phillips that will announce at the International Funk Ausstellung later in '55 their line of Running Girl portable cassette players.

Data storage on large magnetic tape is already here, as is CCTV (for military use). And we can expect advances in lighting technology.

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BostonJoe is gonna tell you...

Posted April 4
How about metallurgy in general. It would have far reaching military and industrial impact. The steel and aluminum of the 40s can't come close to what current tech can produce. Hell, most of the whiz bang stuff people mentioned up thread aren't even possible without modern alloys and composites.

Dirk mutters...

Posted April 4
Very true. For this subject we have laid the bar at the late 60s. HY80 steel, Stainless steel and small scale titanium will be in use. As previously mentioned Chobham and Burlington are as of yet not out of the lab.

Aluminum is at a comparable level with scandium/aluminum alloys being in late research.

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