10 YEARS AGO — 2001
Washing to the beat of opposite drums: Engineers at U. K.-based Dyson discovered that 15 min of hand washing got clothes cleaner than 67 min in a washing machine. So they designed the two drums in their Contrarotator to rotate in opposite directions, simulating hand washing by vigorously flexing fabric and opening the weave to the detergent. In a single-drum machine, clothes rotate in one direction and get bunched up and bundled at the bottom.

The Contrarotator’s large drum spreads clothes out evenly, allowing easier water removal. The large circumference of the deeper double drum creates greater centrifugal force from lower rotational speeds, which translates to a 1,400-rpm spin speed compared to conventional 1,600-rpm spin. The new design also avoids problems associated with seals — the Contrarotator has no rubber seal. The inner door attaches directly to the drum and is covered with a smooth plastic lip, so clothing cannot get trapped.

30 YEARS AGO — 1981
12,000 pictures/sec: A new instrument for recording high-speed video and slow-motion analysis is said to combine advances in magnetic tapes, recording heads, and electronic image sensors. Developed by Spin Physics Inc., an Eastman Technology company, the SP2000 Motion Analysis System records from 60 to 2,000 full-frame images/sec, or as many as 12,000 pictures/sec in partial-frame formats. It also offers instant-replay slow motion and an integral position analyzer.

50 YEARS AGO — 1961
Styling, suspension distinguish new trucks and wagons: Lower, longer-wheelbase, light-duty vehicles by International Harvester feature torsion-bar and I-beam front-end suspensions, welded box-section and channel-steel frames, and a variety of body styles. The Travelette, left, combines a six-passenger cab with pickup body; the Travelall station wagon carries nine passengers or 124 cut ft of cargo. Both are available with four or two-wheel drive. A 155-hp V8 engine is standard on all new C-line vehicles; a 193-hp V8 and three valve-in-head six-cylinder engines — one with an lpg fuel system — are also available.

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