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Application Resources => Resources => Era Guides => Topic started by: Anneka Ivanova on 03/09/2012 at 01:06

Title: History Guide: Muggle Technology
Post by: Anneka Ivanova on 03/09/2012 at 01:06
1930-40s Muggle Technology

In the thirties, radio was a staple. In the USA, 28 million households had a radio by 1939; in Britain, half of all households had a radio by 1933. In essence, radio was the ‘TV’ of the 1930s; soap operas, comedy shows, serials, advertisements, and news reports were all broadcasted through this medium. 1930s America, in particular, often focused broadcasts on entertainment instead of disheartening current events.

In the forties, the radio would become an important means of communicating war news.

Moving Pictures
In the late twenties, movie theaters became popular in both the USA and Europe. They were especially popular with Americans, who experienced the hardest turn of the economic slump, and in summertime, where the movie theaters’ air conditioning was a major attraction. In cinemas, most films screened were in black and white, and there was no ‘surround sound’; however, many modern comforts, such as comfortable seating, were available. Accompanying the featured films were theater newsreels, which functioned in much the same way as radio did by providing commercials, cartoons, and information on current affairs.

In the thirties, televisions were not as popular or common as radios were. By 1939 there were only a few operational TV stations and very few viewers, all in a select few (typically capital) cities.

In the early forties, broadcasting television was formally introduced to the public at the 1939 World Fair; however, World War II slowed its development. Following World War II, television began to replace radio as the main medium.

1930s American cinema.

In the twenties and thirties, household electricity became common in cities and suburbs. Rural areas, however, did not tend to have electricity, and their residents continued to use kerosene lamps and coal, etc.

Air Conditioning
By the thirties, air conditioning was available in public buildings such as cinemas. However, it was not common elsewhere, and the average person did not have it at home until much later, in the 1950s.

Central Heating
In the thirties and forties, only the upper class had modern central heating, while the average person used paraffin, oil, coal, etc. at home.

Telephones in the thirties and forties used rotary dials. Phone numbers had seven numbers and did not have area codes; instead, they used exchange name formatting. Basically, this amounted to the first two or three letters of an area’s name being used as part of the phone number. In the US, a phone number was the first two letters of the area name plus five numbers; in Europe, a phone number was the first three letters plus four numbers.

American example:  ENglewood 3-1234
European example: WHItehall 1212


By the thirties, cars had become popular, but with the widespread economic troubles it was mostly more affluent people who could really afford keeping them.


Cheap and reliable, trains were the main method of transport for most people.

Planes were not usually used for transport; when they were, it was typically by wealthier people on business.

Ships, &tc.
Used by people from all economic backgrounds, ships and other maritime vehicles continued to be a reliable means of long-distance transport during the thirties and forties.

Most people owned ovens that ran on gas, while only a few had electrically powered ovens.

Refrigerators became more common in the thirties, replacing iceboxes. However, a single unit refrigerator very closely-related to the modern fridge was available, with the cooling device located at the top of the cabinet, for high prices.

1934 GE monitor-top refrigerator.

Laundry Machines
Laundry machines became widely available in the twenties.

Other Appliances
Many other basic electrical conveniences, such as toasters, were also now available at this time.

Additional Video Resources:
Early 1930s Radio - Explained here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRp2u8d7lrg).
1930s Electricity Infomercial here (http://www.metacafe.com/watch/715990/1930s_infomercial_about_electricity_funny/).
Rotary Phone in Operation here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIDw75mUl6c).

Written by Aries Applesnow.