Popular Mechanics (often abbreviated as PM or PopMech) is a magazine of popular science and technology, featuring automotive, home, outdoor, electronics, science, do it yourself, and technology topics. Military topics, aviation and transportation of all types, space, tools and gadgets are commonly featured.[2]

Popular Mechanics
Popular Mechanics first cover (January 11, 1902)
CategoriesAutomotive, DIY, Science, Technology
FrequencySix print issues/year
Total circulation
First issueJanuary 11, 1902; 122 years ago (1902-01-11)
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City, New York
Websitewww.popularmechanics.com Edit this at Wikidata

It was founded in 1902 by Henry Haven Windsor, who was the editor and—as owner of the Popular Mechanics Company—the publisher. For decades, the tagline of the monthly magazine was "Written so you can understand it." In 1958, PM was purchased by the Hearst Corporation, now Hearst Communications.[3]

In 2013, the US edition changed from twelve to ten issues per year, and in 2014 the tagline was changed to "How your world works."[4] The magazine added a podcast in recent years, including regular features Most Useful Podcast Ever and How Your World Works.[5]

History edit

Cover of April 1924 issue, 25 cents ($4.34 in 2022)

Popular Mechanics was founded in Chicago by Henry Haven Windsor, with the first issue dated January 11, 1902. His concept was that it would explain "the way the world works" in plain language, with photos and illustrations to aid comprehension.[3] For decades, its tagline was "Written so you can understand it."[6] The magazine was a weekly until September 1902, when it became a monthly. The Popular Mechanics Company was owned by the Windsor family and printed in Chicago until the Hearst Corporation purchased the magazine in 1958. In 1962, the editorial offices moved to New York City.[7] In 2020, Popular Mechanics relocated to Easton, Pennsylvania, along with the additional brands in the Hearst Enthusiast Group (Bicycling and Runner's World).[8]

From the first issue, the magazine featured a large illustration of a technological subject, a look that evolved into the magazine's characteristic full-page, full-color illustration and a small 6.5" x 9.5" trim size beginning with the July, 1911 issue. It maintained the small format until 1975 when it switched the larger standard trim size. Popular Mechanics adopted full-color cover illustrations in 1915, and the look was widely imitated by later technology magazines.[9]

Several international editions were introduced after World War II, starting with a French edition, followed by Spanish in 1947, and Swedish and Danish in 1949. In 2002, the print magazine was being published in English, Chinese, and Spanish and distributed worldwide.[10] South African[11] and Russian editions were introduced that same year.

Articles have been contributed by notable people including Guglielmo Marconi, Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, Barney Oldfield, Knute Rockne, Winston Churchill, Charles Kettering, Tom Wolfe and Buzz Aldrin, as well as some US presidents including Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Comedian and car expert Jay Leno had a regular column, Jay Leno's Garage, starting in March, 1999.[12]

Editors edit

Name Dates
Henry Haven Windsor Jan 1902 - Jun 1924
Henry Haven Windsor Jr Jul 1924 - Dec 1958
Roderick Grant Jan 1959 - Dec 1960
Clifford Hicks Jan 1961 - Sep 1962
Don Dinwiddie Oct 1962 - Sep 1965
Robert Crossley Jul 1966 - Dec 1971
Jim Liston Jan 1972 - Dec 1974
John Linkletter Jan 1975 - Jun 1985
Joe Oldham[14] Aug 1985 - Sep 2004
Jim Meigs[15] Oct 2004 - April 2014
Ryan D'Agostino May 2014 - March 2019
Alexander George March 2019 - April 2021
Bill Strickland[16] April 2021 – Present
The impact of the greenhouse effect on Earth's climate was succinctly described more than a century ago in this 1912 Popular Mechanics article.

*In general, dates are the inclusive issues for which an editor was responsible. For decades, the lead time to go from submission to print was three months, so some of the dates might not correspond exactly with employment dates. As the Popular Mechanics web site has become more dominant and the importance of print issues has declined, editorial changes have more immediate impact.

Awards edit

  • 1986 National Magazine Award in the Leisure Interest category for the Popular Mechanics Woodworking Guide, November 1986.
  • 2008 National Magazine Award in the Personal Service category for its "Know Your Footprint: Energy, Water and Waste" series.
  • The magazine has received eight National Magazine Award nominations, including 2012 nominations in the Magazine of the Year category and the General Excellence category.[17]

Criticisms edit

In June 2020, following several high-profile takedowns of statues of controversial historical figures, Popular Mechanics faced criticism from primarily conservative commentators and news outlets for an article that provided detailed instructions on how to take down statues.[18]

In early December 2020, Popular Mechanics published an article titled "Leaked Government Photo Shows 'Motionless, Cube-Shaped' UFO."[19] In late December, paranormal claims investigator and fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), Kenny Biddle, investigated the claim in Skeptical Inquirer. Biddle reported that both he and fellow investigator Mick West, also a CSI fellow, easily explained the supposed UFO as a mylar balloon, with Biddle even claiming to have identified the design as a Batman balloon. Biddle, previously a PopMech fan, wrote in his Popular Misinformation article:[20]

After re-reading the entire Popular Mechanics article, I felt a sense of extreme disappointment with the magazine. It published an article filled with conspiracy theory–like content, and the author failed to spend any time independently verifying the information presented... this balloon-UFO article served the readers a lot of uncritical nonsense rather than any quality information. I am terribly disappointed in the magazine and have no desire to pick up another issue.[20]

Further reading edit

  • Israel, Paul B. (April 1994). "Enthusiasts and Innovators: 'Possible Dreams' and the 'Innovation Station' at the Henry Ford Museum". Technology and Culture. 35 (2): 396–401. doi:10.2307/3106308. JSTOR 3106308. S2CID 112116916.
  • Wright, John L. (July 1992). Possible Dreams: Enthusiasm for Technology in America. Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-933728-35-6.
  • Bryant, Margaret M. (1977). "New Words from Popular Mechanics". American Speech. 52 (1/2): 39–46. doi:10.2307/454718. JSTOR 454718.
  • A nearly complete archive of Popular Mechanics issues from 1905 through 2005 is available[21][22] through Google Books.
  • Popular Mechanics' cover art is the subject of Tom Burns' 2015 Texas Tech PhD dissertation, titled Useful fictions: How Popular Mechanics builds technological literacy through magazine cover illustration.[23]
  • Darren Orr wrote an analysis of the state of Popular Mechanics in 2014 as partial fulfillment of requirements for a master's degree in journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia.[24][25]

References edit

  1. ^ "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Audit Bureau of Circulations. December 31, 2017. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  2. ^ "Popular Mechanics".
  3. ^ a b Seelhorst, Mary (1992). Wright, John (ed.). Ninety Years of Popular Mechanics. St. Paul, Minn: Seawell. p. 62. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  4. ^ "The 60-second interview: Ryan D'Agostino, editor-in-chief, Popular Mechanics". Politico.com. October 20, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  5. ^ "Popular Mechanics podcasts".
  6. ^ Whittaker, Wayne (January 1952). "The Story of Popular Mechanics". Popular Mechanics. pp. 127–132, 366–380.
  7. ^ Seelhorst, Mary (October 2002). "In the Driver's Seat". Popular Mechanics: 96.
  8. ^ Rhodin, Tony (October 14, 2020). "Hearst Magazines to soon move its Enthusiast Group into Easton building". lehighvalleylive. Retrieved June 7, 2024.
  9. ^ Seelhorst, Mary (May 2002). "The Art of the Cover: The most memorable covers from the past 100 years and the stories behind them". Popular Mechanics: 94.
  10. ^ Seelhorst, Mary (March 2002). "Zero to 100". Popular Mechanics: 117.
  11. ^ "Popular Mechanics". RamsayMedia.co.za. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  12. ^ Seelhorst, Mary, ed. (2002). The Best of Popular Mechanics, 1902-2002. New York: Hearst Communications. p. 1. ISBN 1-58816-112-9.
  13. ^ Seelhorst, Mary (October 2002). "In the Driver's Seat". Popular Mechanics: 95–97.
  14. ^ Oldham, Joe (September 2004). "Editor's Notes". Popular Mechanics: 8.
  15. ^ "Ryan D'Agostino Named Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics". April 22, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  16. ^ Miller, Rudy (November 22, 2022). "Roads, trails and a world-class track. Why the Lehigh Valley is a cycling mecca". lehighvalleylive. Retrieved June 7, 2024.
  17. ^ "Popular Mechanics News and Updates". Hearst Communications. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  18. ^ Concha, Joe (June 17, 2020). "Popular Mechanics publishes how-to guide to take down statues 'without anyone getting hurt'". The Hill. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  19. ^ Daniels, Andrew (December 8, 2020). "Leaked Government Photo Shows 'Motionless, Cube-Shaped' UFO". Popularmechanics.com. PopMech. Archived from the original on January 3, 2021. Retrieved January 3, 2021. The U.S. Intelligence Community has known about the mysterious object for two years. What could it be?
  20. ^ a b Biddle, Kenny (December 29, 2020). "Popular Misinformation". SkepticalInquirer.org. CFI. Archived from the original on January 3, 2021. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  21. ^ "Google and Popular Mechanics". Popular Mechanics. December 10, 2008. Archived from the original on December 31, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  22. ^ Ross, James (August 15, 2005). "Google Library Project". Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  23. ^ "Tom Burns (2015)".
  24. ^ Orf, Darren (2013). ""Written So You Can Understand It": The process and people behind creating an issue of Popular Mechanics". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  25. ^ Darren Orf. "Analysis" (PDF). MO Space. Retrieved September 22, 2016.

External links edit