New England tinkerer Arthur Blanchard didn’t patent a machine in 1916 to remove the guesswork from the pre-Talkie screenwriting process but merely to alleviate humans of the guessing. The so-called thinking machine was a handheld device that used a slot-machine method to cough up plots. It was marketed as “The Movie Writer,” though it was said to be helpful in the creation of poems and novels as well. In 1921, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran an article celebrating this simple technology.
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