Saturday, May 14, 2011

“God, I’m Glad Someone Is Still Thinking.”

(Image - Embossed on plastic 'Diver' transmission hologram, circa 1972-73, by Michael Foster and Jeff Allen)

It’s been said the Guru is there when you need him (or her.) I was thinking of a significant experience in my life that seemed somewhat like that.

In the early seventies I was buying a ‘manual hologram replicator’ (known back then as a ‘manual clothes wringer’ for washing machines) when a chance remark by a sales boy has stuck with me ever since. He asked me, (at that time I was looking very ‘early seventies Hollywood’ with long hair) why was I buying a hand roller. The place was a car wash supply store in Los Angeles, one of the few places that still sold the ancient wringers, but in this case, they were for drying chamois used for washing cars, not clothes drying. Well, I didn’t look like an employee or owner of a car wash so his question seemed reasonable.

It was one of those perfect, memorable moments. To answer his question, I reached into my black leather side bag for a newly created embossed hologram and lifted it into his field of view, illuminating it with a very bright halogen light which just happened to be above him. What he saw was a suspended image of a diver with his hand projected inches in front of the physical transparent hologram.

I know at this stage in the holography game only a minimal amount of people on the planet had even seen a hologram, let alone even heard the word. Little did he know he was seeing a piece of holographic history. ‘The Diver’ was our 3rd hologram in the ‘prototyping of the white light embossed holograms’. Today, embossed holography is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

‘The Diver’ is one of CR&D's (Mike Foster and my R&D corporation then) four earliest embossed holograms in the MIT Museum Collection. I recently donated ‘David’, which completed their set of CR&D's early white light embossed holograms, except for one, titled, ‘Randi’. (More info Link to MIT blog entry -

So here, the sales boy in a car wash supply shop is witnessing a suspended 3D solid looking image of a diver floating above my hand. When I told him the answer to his question, “why was I buying a wash wringer?”…my answer was “to mass produce holograms like this one.” In what must have been a surrealistic moment for him, he paused, and then reflectively said: “God, I’m glad someone is still thinking!”

I thanked him quietly in my mind for reminding me that there are times when we’re ‘awake’ and using the creative abilities and experience capabilities we have, while we’re still ‘thinking’ about all the infinite possibilities waiting to be created and experienced.

As to how the chamois wringer mass produced embossed holograms, let me just say that Michael Foster, the inventor, was a very clever man.

Now, when I see an amazing collection of art or a truly innovative technological achievement…I think, “God, I’m glad someone is still thinking.”

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