We have an entire world in our pockets today. Over time, our “phones” have become essential tools for modern life, universal guides to the 21st century. A single device, weighing only ounces, is able to connect us, help us to communicate, record us, keep track of time, place us on a map, tell us when to turn.
“There's An App For That” recalls life before the iPhone, presenting a collection of historical devices that once fulfilled one of many daily functions that we now hold in the palm of our hands. Some, like the Apple II, were groundbreaking inventions making computing personal; others, like the reflecting nephroscope, advanced weather prediction but have since themselves become obsolete. Over time, many of these earlier objects have been washed away by the tide of technology and subsumed into the iPhone; indeed, many of these instruments you may not even recognize. However, we, the students of HIST 63.02, exhibit these artifacts not only to help us appreciate the conveniences of life in the age of the iPhone but also to become aware of the vast histories that made that age possible.
Our exhibition is made possible through the efforts of Allen King, a Dartmouth physics professor (d. 2003) who assembled a collection of more than 3000 instruments, from which all of our pieces were drawn. We would like to thank Richard Kremer, Jane Quigley, Jean-François Gauvin, Ralph Gibson, Whitey Adams, Alan Goldblatt, and the Kresge Library for supporting our efforts to create this exhibit.