Publishers: Hugo Gernsback


Hugo Gernsback, early-20th-Century immigrant to America from Luxembourg, is honored for all of his many publishing efforts, though he is probably best known as the originator of AMAZING STORIES, considered the first true science-fiction magazine. But his contribution to the popular technical education of the American public (and the world at large!) had a greater long-term effect.

Gernsback made many contributions to the popularization of science and technology, and to our general awareness of the future and its possibilities. Outside the tech and science-fiction communities, however, he is little known. We have many useful links on this page, and if you thread your way through them you will be amused, amazed, and frankly astonished at just what this man did.

Photo above, Gernsback in or before 1918; photo below, the rest of the team; from the book Wireless Course / Eighth Edition by S. Gernsback, A. Lescarboura, and H. W. Secor [Published by the EICo, aka the Electro Importing Company], courtesy Steve Davis. Click to see larger versions.

All that said, there had never been a proper biography of Gernsback. While he did write occasional autobiographical pieces, no full life story of the man had ever been published until 2007. Larry Steckler, who worked for Gernsback and his publishing company for nearly fifty years, and was the last owner of Gernsback Publications, Inc., writes that when the publishing company finally closed in 2002, they found an unpublished manuscript biography of Hugo. Apparently written in the 1950's, a decade before his death at 83, it finally ties his life together. Gernsback scholar Mike Ashley has identified the likely writer(s) of this work, even though they are not directly credited in the manuscript.

This book also serves, apparently, as an outlet for his frustration at what he considered the lack of recognition he got for his work in predicting the future, and in developing his eighty patented ideas. The manuscript has been edited for publication, and is now available from the BookSurge division of Amazon. We'll have some quotes from it here and on the appropriate pages for his various magazine titles.


Copyright © Poptronix Inc., 2007

On October 28th 2007, Gernsback Memorial Day was held in Mamer (Luxemburg). Notable events included the issuance of a set of stamps honoring Gernsback, lectures, exhibits, and an SF book fair. Click Here for more information (in German and French).

Hugo was prolific, and besides the science-fiction and science and mechanics titles, he created and published some of the most important technical magazines for fans of radio, electronics, television, short-wave radio—not to mention magazines about gadgets, French humor, trailers and campers, your body, and the scientific study of sex.

To learn more about Gernsback, start with Michael Banks' three-part article, "Hugo Gernsback: The man who invented the future," on the Citizen Scientist website. There's a Hugo Gernsback tribute site, which used to have plenty of material about him, but it is not being maintained and most of the links are now broken.

Wikipedia has a page on Gernsback, with a few links.

It's probably safe to say that as a fiction writer, he emphasized content and innovation over style. He was the author of several long works of SF, and many shorter articles in which he predicted or forecast the future. A bibliography of his science-fiction related work can be found at the ISFDB.

At the bottom of this page we have links to some references which can add additional background to the man, his work, and his times.

The Hugo Gernsback papers comprise some fifty linear feet at the Syracuse University Library . The catalog list includes correspondence, manuscripts, and periodical runs of magazines he published. Here is a (corrected and reorganized) list from their website, with links to our website's cover image albums where available:

Gernsback's Magazines

Here are covers from a few representative Gernsback magazines. Click the titles or images to go directly to the cover image collections.

RADIO
CRAFT

THE
EXPERIMENTER

ELECTRICAL
EXPERIMENTER


SEXOLOGY
MAGAZINE
Sexology1944-07

SCIENCE AND
MECHANICS
ScienceAndMechanics1932-06

SHORT-WAVE & TV
MAGAZINES

SCIENCE AND
INVENTION


 

FULL LIST BY TITLE:

Air Wonder Stories
Amazing Detective Stories
Amazing Stories
Aviation Mechanics
Electrical Experimenter — 1913 to 1920; became Science and Invention
Everyday Mechanics — founded apparently in 1929; name changed
     to Everyday Science and Mechanics with October 1931 issue
Everyday Science and Mechanics — see Science and Mechanics below
The Experimenter — originally Practical Electrics, the first issue under this name
     was November 1924; merged into Science and Invention in 1926
Facts of life
Flight
Fotocraft
French Humor — became Tidbits
Gadgets
High Seas Adventures
Know Yourself
Life Guide
Light
Luz
Milady
Modern Electrics — 1908 to 1914 (sold in 1913 and merged by new owners into Electrician and Mechanic)
Moneymaking
Motor Camper & Tourist
New Ideas for Everybody
Pirate Stories
Popular Medicine
Practical Electrics — Dec. 1921 to Oct. 1924 — became The Experimenter
Radio Amateur News — July 1919 to July 1920 — dropped the word "amateur"
     and became just Radio News
Radio and Television
Radio-Craft — July 1929 to June 1948 — became Radio-Electronics
Radio Electronics — July 1948 to ____ —
Radio Electronics Weekly Business Letter
Radio Listeners Guide and Call Book [title varies]
Radio News — July 1919 (as Radio Amateur News) to July 1948 —
Radio Program Weekly
Radio Review
Science and Invention — formerly Electrical Experimenter;
     published August 1920 to August 1931
Science and Mechanics — originally Everyday Mechanics;
     title changed to Everyday Science and Mechanics in 1931. "Everyday" dropped
     with the March 1937 issue, and published as
     Science and Mechanics until 1976
Science Fiction Plus
Science Wonder Stories
Scientific Detective Monthly
Sexologia
Sexology
Short-Wave and Television
Short-Wave Craft — incorporated into Radio-Craft
Short-Wave Listener
Superworld Comics
Technocracy Review
Television
Television News
Tidbits, originally French Humor
Woman's Digest
Wonder Stories
Your Body
Your Dreams

We now have most of the cover images from ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER and its successor SCIENCE AND INVENTION.

We also have most of the early cover images from Gernsback's other technical titles such as MODERN ELECTRICS, PRACTICAL ELECTRICS, and THE EXPERIMENTER, and earlier issues of his radio magazines RADIO NEWS and RADIO-CRAFT, and his short-wave and television magazines; some of them continued to be published into the latter part of the 20th Century. Finally, a few issues of some miscellaneous titles like FRENCH HUMOR, SEXOLOGY, and YOUR BODY.

Special thanks to Dennis Lien, Reference Librarian at UMinn, and to OCLC's FirstSearch facility for the publication information given above for some of the titles. Thanks to Guy Gordon for some additional corrections and clarifications. We still have more work to do.

Further references on Hugo Gernsback

cover cover cover cover


Update history: This page originally created 9 September 2002; latest revision 29 April 2012.