This piece was written for Weekly Min Min Prompt for March 10, 2023, ‘paint it black’.
When David Warren (inevitably nick-named Rabbit) invented his device, the initial response from the airlines was less than whelming. ‘Experts’ placed it only slightly higher than the perpetual motion machine, a flying car powered by ice cream, and an electronic worldwide network for sharing cat pictures on the scale of likelihood of being feasible.
So for trade fairs and product pitches he introduced some novelty features.
When it was first switched on, a jack would pop out of the top of the box and shout ‘Houston, we have a problem’. When the ‘Print Report’ function was activated, the end of the cylinder would open and eject the local newspaper. The bottom section concealed a drawer where you could store useful things for an emergency, like a pad and pencil so you could hastily write your will and a copy of the Common Book of Prayer and a cyanide capsule, in case you felt a bit squeamish at the thought of dying in a plane crash.
When his invention finally got the recognition it deserved, he made it available royalty and patent free and he promptly disappeared from aviation history. Of course, unimaginative manufacturers totally ignored his one and only request: ‘Paint it black’.
Footnote: David Warren was very real. I’ve made up the purportedly amusing bits.
The black box: an Australian invention that nearly didn’t happen (theconversation.com)
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