Monday, December 20, 2010

The forgotten genius of Henry Hoke

It's always good to see a forgotten genius finally being recognised, especially when he's Australian. Henry Hoke is the Australian Einstein or Alexander Graham Bell (both of whom he knew — he corresponded on a first name basis with Einstein) and was the subject earlier this year of a long overdue exhibition at the South Australian Maritime Museum.

Hoke, of Hoke's Tool Company, was a neglected but wide ranging inventor, producing myriad ideas. Sadly, he is now mostly forgotten, though (like Tesla) many of his inventions were stolen by others and have become well known in these copies. There's the Quack of Doom (so powerful and dangerous the US military decided to go with the atom bomb instead). He was also a pioneer of alternative energy, developing a clockwork car (this is now lost, though the key — Hoke's Giant Wind-Up — still exists). Some of his other prescient inventions include:

Refined Bulldust, so beloved of alties. Similar to Philip Pullman's Dust, it is everywhere.

Hoke's bulldust

Willing's Suspension of Disbelief, another altie favourite, most effectively employed with the Bulldust.

Suspension of disbelief

And Dehydrated Water Pills ("Instructions for use: Add alcohol, preferably gin"). Today, these incredible pills are to be found in pharmacies everywhere with, criminally, no recognition of Hoke at all.

Dehydrated water pills

Flickr gallery of the exhibition

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