Friday, February 12, 2010

The First Google

Prior to the advent of internet searches, information and tools could be hard to find.  Local library, local stores, telephone book, word of mouth , were all means of obtaining information and tools but could be limited in scope.  This catalog, started by  Stuart Brand in 1968 attempted to include sources for books and pamphlets which may have been at the edges of what was obtainable locally.  Here you may find information on communes, building your own sauna, ordering a parachute, carving a pipe, building a tipi or log home, desert farming, and a book which I may look to see if it is still available called  "The practical cogitator".   There is a running drama on the pages of the catalog called "Divine Right's Trip" which is interesting to read as you peruse the pages, and tends to draw you into the rest of the page which contains summaries and comments on the books presented for sale.  Readers could submit writeups of books or catalogs and would be paid $10 if their presentation was printed in the next supplement.  Between fall of '68 and spring of '71 there were 14 updates/supplements sold to stay current with what was available and add new sources.

I used to collect catalogs and still have a pile of useless ones since they are mostly way out of date (I still get a few sent to me which is odd because the companies now have an on-line presence and need not print them.)
On the cover of the first Whole Earth Catalog was a photo of the whole earth taken from an ATS satellite in November 1967.  It is said to be the first full-earth picture published.  (Eat your words flat-earthers.)

But  we can now search on any topic or item  and get many sources and possibilities for products and reading.  What need for libraries or stores when anything can come in the mail?

I marvel at the possibilities; but  do wonder what exists out there and may not be available by punching keys.

 The first


  1. yep... an ocean of information for the subject under research... but unfortunately in many cases the researcher gets lost on the surface and fails to probe deep...

    beautiful pic of the earth...

  2. I can't imagine what I'd do without old books and libraries. Information is right at my fingertips with the internet. That's great and all, but the scent and the romance of old publications is missing. And just sometimes I find a tidbit of info that just didn't make it to the internet.

    The photo of the Earth in black and white is lovely...takes me back to school days when most photos were black and white.

  3. Just for giggles I googled the Whole Earth Catalog and found a website for it. Surfing through I found that a few of the books associated with the catalog have been in their entirety added to the website.

    One was a book published in the 1970's about man-made space colonies or space cities as Carl Sagan liked to call them. Couldn't help but get a little melancholy over the optimistic nature that book presented. If things had worked out like it said we would be well on our way to seeing such cities floating in space home to thousands of people.

    In reality its 2010 and the only system the United States has to put people in space is about to be retired and Obama has canceled its replacement.

    Would space cities have solved the earth's problems? Of course not but it would have at least expanded peoples reality and given a different direction for life people could chosen over the narrow and banal one that is our only option we have now.

    This was a great post Goatman.

  4. I have an array of advantages over the internet but i still tend to get classic, i still glean from those published books and enjoy reading them with my back laid on my bed.

    The way we manage and retrieve information has gone far.

    Great post Goatman! Have a good day! :)

  5. wow!!!!....a great thing this is....

  6. Wow, I sure do remember that book...I know I used to have it "somewhere"...too many moves and changes in life it got lost along the way...however I have fond memories of reading it. I loved the black and white photo. Hang your old cataloges and books...may be worth a lot by now!

    I still like to sit up in bed at night and read "real books". I have a very old edition of Pride & Prejudice and a few other really old books..the pages are fragile and worn with time...and I treasure re-reading them from time to time...especially Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters books. I do appreciate the internet for some things, yet I also see such danger in that area of our less socializing in "real life" up close and personal..face to face. They said years ago that our world would become so much easier with all the "new gadgets"...yet I mostly see how complicated, complex and more confusing it becomes. We have too many choices and tend to go from one thing to another in an instant! I find this very sad and in my humble opinion part of the worlds "Multi-tasking" not a really normal thing..yet we think it is...hmmm..something maybe for all of us to ponder for a while...if we can just be still for more than a few minutes.

    Great post remind me of myself at times...Life used to seem more happy and "normal" back then didn't it? There I go giving away my age and generation again. And yet I love Eminem and ever rap and hip hop...go figure!

    Always open to new things in life...just not all at once.

    Hope your doing well and looking forward to's on it's way soon.

    Love and Blessings,


  7. I remember this catalog from my Berkeley days. They were everywhere.

  8. funny isn't it: blogging about libraries and card catalogs and printed catalogs. with the whole internet at our fingertips, yet we miss gems like this one. great post!

    was it in any way related to Mother Earth News catalogs? i remember my folks getting that one in the '70's.


  9. Gems those books, that's for certain. I still prefer them.