Saturday, September 13, 2014

Chester Gould and Joseph Smith

On October 4, 1931, Dick Tracy (far left) burst on the scene in a comic strip in the Detroit Mirror (Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate), the creation of 30-year-old, Oklahoma-born comic artist Chester Gould (near left). By 1934, Dick Tracy was on radio over NBC and later CBS and ABC stations. By 1946, the 2-Way Wrist Radio, worn as a wristwatch by Tracy and members of the police force, became one of the strip’s most immediately recognizable icons. 
   This was 16 years before the first commercialized Mobile Telephone Service, and some 35 years before the Radio Common Carrier (RCC) service was introduced, and forty years before the first truly mobile cell phones of the 1970s, when the first hand-held cell phone was demonstrated by John F. Mitchell and Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973, using a handset weighing around 4.4 pounds. In 1983, the DynaTAC 8000x was the first to be commercially available.
    Interestingly enough, in 2011, Hewlett-Packard delivered to the U.S. Army, 80 years after Dick Tracy, a working prototype of what they’re calling a “Dick Tracy wristwatch” — a lightweight, wearable device that soldiers in the field can use to view digital maps and other data on a flexible plastic screen that won’t shatter or crack like glass. Two years later, Apple began experimenting with smartwatches made out of curved glass.
Left: The RCC Radio Telephone; Center: The first cellular phone introduced in 1973 (DynaTAC8000X); Right: The first pocket cell phone introduced in Japan in 1997-2003. 
    Of course, in today's day and age of computers, cell phones and video recorders, few remember Dick Tracy, but back in the day, for those of us who grew up with the original Plainclothes, police detective Tracy, he had the same electronics that are available today beginning with his famous two-way wrist radio, which we thought at the time was impossible.
Once TV came out, Tracy’s watch was upgraded to a 2-Way TV Watch—something all of us thought was definitely impossible!   
The original 2-Way Radio became a 3-Way TV in 1964 
    So what does Dick Tracy have to do with the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith? First of all, one of the factors we need to consider is how common so many past inventions appear to us today. There are few things anyone can conceive in theory today that would surprise most of us. We have lived with Star Trek since 1966, beginning only 20 years after Dick Tracy’s 2-Way Wrist Radio. Those in their 50s today have grown up with “personal communicators” (cell phones), “hypospray” injections (subcutaneous jet injection), “phasers set on stun” (stun guns called tasers), “universal translators” (voice recognition), “VISOR” (bionic eyes), ”Telepresence communication” (video conferencing),  “Tricorder” (NASA’s LOCAD), “hand held medical instruments” (hand-held nuclear magnetic resonance imaging), and “transparent aluminum” (ALON, aluminum oxynitride). Since 1969 man has walked on the moon. Movies show us a future of previously unbelievable ideas that are now pretty common in thought.
    So most of us today do not think to deeply over ideas that would have shocked our grandparents and great grandparents. In a word, we take them for granted. But when you look at certain things that some claim are fiction but others know to be reality, some items are truly remarkable.
    Take Joseph Smith’s translation of the Liahona “compass” found by Lehi before he and his family begin the second phase of their journey in the wilderness (1 Nephi 16:10), in which he described a small, compact hand-held compass 56 years before one was invented; a portable unit that had texting ability (from the Lord to man [1 Nephi 16:26-30]), 163 years before the first texting was ever conceived, and 166 years before Vice President Al Gore sent a text to launch the service in 1995. The Liahona also had GPS capability (showing where they were and where they were headed [1 Nephi 16:10]). This was 66 years before Marconi invented wireless telegraphy, 78 to 81 years before “radio” came into being, and 129 years before Eisenhower commissioned a GPS system to be developed and 166 years before it became fully operational in 1995.
The Liahona was truly a remarkable invention for man to consider in 1829 when Joseph Smith described its use. Where would a 24-yer old uneducated young farm boy, who had never heard of a car, airplane, telephone, radio, or other type of objects have come up with such future technology that was more than a century away from existence in his day. In fact, a partial list of inventions after Joseph Smith’s time have been: photography, telegraph, sewing machine, elevator, dishwasher, dynamite, typewriter, automobile, phonograph, light bulb, airplane, radio and television, washing machine, bicycle, moving pictures, toilet paper, radar, zipper, helicopter, brazier (bra), pop-up toaster, BandAid, frozen food, fiber optics, air conditioning, rockets, nylon, nuclear reactor, xerox machine, scotch tape, fax machine, computers, and the Internet--and the list goes on and on.
One of the odd situations that has caused many people some difficulty, is the fact that Joseph Smith, when translating through the Seer Stone, placed it in a his hat and peered into it. Some people have mistakenly called it “the magic hat,” but that was not the purpose—the hat was merely a shield against the light. Isn’t it remarkable that 66 years before the first movie screen was viewed (at the Berlin Wintergarten theater in 1895), and 98 years before the first TV (CRT) screen showed an image, that someone knew it was necessary to place an image in a darkened environment in which to see what was shown on it? Today, I still can’t see the image on my Samsung S-4 2½” x 4¼“ screen in broad daylight.
    It is interesting how it is the little things that add to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and make its translation truly accurate, as well as those bigger events surrounding its coming forth and being translated by the Spirit of the Lord.

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