"The greatest difficulty that the human mind has to contend with is lack of concentration, mainly due to outside influences. If, by one stroke, we can do away with these influences, we will not only be benefitted greatly thereby, but our work would be accomplished more quickly and the results would be vastly better. [...] It will be noted that the glass windows directly in front of the eyes are black. The construction involved the use of ordinary window glass, the outer glass being painted entirely black. Two small white lines were scratched into the paint, as shown. The idea of this is as follows: The writer thought that shutting out the noises was not sufficient. The eye would still wander around, thereby distracting attention. By having the two white lines scratched on the glass, the field through which the eye can move is comparatively small."
Prescient satirical concept… or perhaps he was serious:
According to [Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, 2015] Gernsback himself may have been “an undiagnosed Aspergian”: “His peers regarded him as an unsociable figure who remained coolly distant from the communities he created. The people he counted as friends tended to be prominent scientists, influential politicians, and other notable figures with whom he corresponded by mail; historian James Gunn observed in Alternate Worlds that he was ‘a strange mixture of personal reserve and aggressive salesmanship’.
Silberman refers to the Isolator in particular as Gernsback’s “most blatantly autistic creation”.
Read the full description of The Isolator from the July 1925 edition of Science and Invention.
The Hugo Awards were named after Hugo Gernsback, who is regarded as “The Father of Science Fiction”.