This article is a part of Overlooked, a collection of obituaries about outstanding individuals whose deaths, starting in 1851, went unreported in The Times.
More than 60 years earlier than Kindles, Nooks, iPads and different digital units revolutionized studying, there was a gadget invented in a village in Spain that had the potential to do the identical.
The Enciclopedia Mecanica, or Mechanical Encyclopedia, because it was recognized, was not the brainchild of a multinational company like Apple or Amazon; it was invented in 1948 by Ángela Ruiz Robles, a widowed trainer who needed to make studying simpler for her college students and her three daughters.
Her invention, a pale inexperienced field in regards to the dimension of a textbook with an intricate inside, allowed a person to learn phrases in any language and on any subject, and was supposed to lighten a pupil’s guide load. Today it’s seen by many as an analog ancestor of the e-reader.
“What she invented carried on into the future,” her grandson Daniel Gonzalez de la Rivera stated by telephone from his dwelling in Madrid.
He added: “Each time I see one I am reminded of my grandmother.”
Within the Mechanical Encyclopedia’s covers have been three horizontal spools that held scrolls, every of which could possibly be swapped out for an additional, on a distinct subject. The scrolls may maintain textual content, elaborate line drawings or decorative determine sketches, and the encyclopedia, which was battery operated, contained a small lightbulb, so customers may learn in the dead of night. Ruiz Robles created the machine, and the scrolls together with it, “to get maximum knowledge with minimum effort,” as she advised the newspaper Pueblo in 1958.
The machine, which Ruiz Robles referred to as “a mechanical, electrical and air pressure procedure for reading books,” acquired Spanish patent 190,698 in 1949. A prototype acquired one other patent, 276,346, when it was assembled in 1962 within the Ferrol Shipyard, with Robles overseeing the work.
Decades later, in November 2007, Amazon launched the Kindle, with a 6-inch digital ink display that allowed customers to obtain and browse some 88,000 books and magazines. The units bought out in lower than six hours. This yr, wordsrated.com, a analysis group dedicated to the publishing business, reported that 15.92 million e-books have been being produced each month.
In her day, nevertheless, Ruiz Robles couldn’t muster a lot manufacturing help. Despite repeated efforts, she didn’t persuade financiers to fund her creation, and it was by no means broadly produced.
Today, the prototype of Ruiz Robles’s Mechanical Encyclopedia is displayed on the National Museum of Science and Technology in A Coruña, Spain, a supply of satisfaction for her nation and a testomony to what might need been.
Ángela Ruiz Robles was born on March 28, 1895, in Villamanín, a small city within the province of Leon in northwestern Spain. Her father, Feliciano Ruiz, a rich pharmacist, and mom, Elena Robles, a homemaker, ensured that she had a top-notch training. She graduated from a lecturers school in Leon, then taught there till 1916.
In 1918, Ruiz Robles moved to Santa Eugenia de Mandia, a village in Galicia close to the coast, the place she labored as a trainer till 1928. She then moved to close by Ferrol and based the Academia Elmaca.
The faculty, positioned in her dwelling and named for her three daughters, Elena, Elvira and Maria Carmen, provided lessons by day and at night time served as a coaching floor for college kids of little means. She additionally developed efficient academic strategies for college kids with disabilities, generally exhibiting up at their houses to supply additional assist.
In 1934, Ruiz Robles turned supervisor of the Escuela Nacional de Niñas del Hospicio, a nationwide faculty for orphans in Ferrol, the place she helped ladies who may in any other case be deprived to thrive in society.
She discovered nice that means in engaged on behalf of others.
“We come to this world not only to live our life as comfortable as possible,” she advised Pueblo in 1958, “but to worry about others so that they can benefit from something offered by us.”
Between 1938 and 1946, Ruiz Robles printed 16 textbooks, together with tutorials in spelling, grammar, syntax, shorthand and phonetics. But in 1946, her husband, Andres Grandal, a service provider marine, died of a coronary heart assault, leaving her to boost her three daughters alone.
Despite her appreciable home and instructing duties, Ruiz Robles devoted what spare time she needed to inventing a contemporary, interactive method to training.
Gonzalez de la Rivera described his grandmother as pushed, noting that she most popular the solitude of her workplace and the clacking of her typewriter keys to sitting in cafes or taking part in playing cards with buddies.
“She never wasted time,” he stated. “She didn’t look at the birds. She was always working.”
“Can a good inventor be a good housewife at the same time? Yes, yes, but it is necessary that the servants or people around her do not force her into extensive conversations of ordinary things,” she advised Pueblo. “Silence is essential as it facilitates the gestation of those ideas which then favor the progress of the world.”
In 1947, Ruiz Robles was awarded the Cross of Alphonso X the Wise for her improvements within the discipline of training, analysis and social work. In 1952, she was awarded a gold medal at an exhibition for Spanish inventors.
She spent the previous couple of years of her life in Madrid together with her daughter Maria Carmen, and she or he by no means gave up on having her invention manufactured. Ruiz Robles had affords to supply it within the United States, however she shunned them, saying her creation needed to be made in Spain.
“I went with her to different organizations and lawyers to push her mechanical book,” stated Gonzalez de la Rivera. “I explained how the product worked and how to make the book less heavy. We made the rounds without success. But my grandmother was never frustrated. I never remember her telling me, ‘What a pity’ or ‘What a disaster.’ She was never frightened away.”
Ruiz Robles died on Oct. 27, 1975. She was 80.
In 2018, the City Council in Madrid accepted the naming of a road for her in that metropolis.
“She was one lady with three daughters and without a husband,” stated Gonzalez de la Rivera, her grandson, including, “It is incredible what she did.”
This article will seem in a brand new guide, “Overlooked,” a compilation of 66 obituaries out this fall.
Source web site: www.nytimes.com