Popular Mechanics

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Popular Mechanics
Popular Mechanics logo.svg
Popular Mechanics Cover Vol 1 Issue 1 11 January 1902.jpg
Popular Mechanics first cover (January 11, 1902)
Editor-In-ChiefAlexander George [1]
Categories Automotive, DIY, Science, Technology
FrequencyTen per year
Total circulation
1,208,642 [2]
First issueJanuary 11, 1902; 118 years ago (1902-01-11)
Company Hearst
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City, New York
LanguageEnglish, Russian
Website www.popularmechanics.com Edit this at Wikidata
ISSN 0032-4558

Popular Mechanics (sometimes PM or PopMech) is a magazine of popular science and technology, featuring automotive, home, outdoor, electronics, science, do-it-yourself, and technology topics. Military topics, aviation and transportation of all types, space, tools and gadgets are commonly featured. [3]

It was founded in 1902 by Henry Haven Windsor, who was the editor and—as owner of the Popular Mechanics Company—the publisher. For decades, the tagline of the monthly magazine was "Written so you can understand it." In 1958, PM was purchased by the Hearst Corporation, now Hearst Communications. [4]

In 2013, the US edition changed from twelve to ten issues per year, and in 2014 the tagline was changed to "How your world works." [5] The magazine added a podcast in recent years, including regular features Most Useful Podcast Ever and How Your World Works. [6]


Cover of April 1924 issue, 25 cents ($3.80 in 2019)

Popular Mechanics was founded in Chicago by Henry Haven Windsor, with the first issue dated January 11, 1902. His concept was that it would explain "the way the world works" in plain language, with photos and illustrations to aid comprehension. [4] For decades, its tagline was "Written so you can understand it." [7] The magazine was a weekly until September 1902, when it became a monthly. The Popular Mechanics Company was owned by the Windsor family and printed in Chicago until the Hearst Corporation purchased the magazine in 1958. In 1962, the editorial offices moved to New York City. [8]

From the first issue, the magazine featured a large illustration of a technological subject, a look that evolved into the magazine's characteristic full-page, full-color illustration and a small 6.5" x 9.5" trim size beginning with the July, 1911 issue. It maintained the small format until 1975 when it switched the larger standard trim size. Popular Science adopted full-color cover illustrations in 1915, and the look was widely imitated by later technology magazines. [9]

Several international editions were introduced after World War II, starting with a French edition, followed by Spanish in 1947, and Swedish and Danish in 1949. In 2002, the print magazine was being published in English, [[Chinese[[, and Spanish and distributed worldwide. [10] South African [11] and Russian editions were introduced that same year.

Notable articles have been contributed by notable people including Guglielmo Marconi, Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, Barney Oldfield, Knute Rockne, Winston Churchill, Charles Kettering, Tom Wolfe and Buzz Aldrin, as well as some US presidents including Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Comedian and car expert Jay Leno had a regular column, Jay Leno's Garage, starting in March, 1999. [12]

In June 2020, Popular Mechanics faced widespread criticism for an article that provided detailed instructions on how to vandalize monuments. [13]


Editors* [14]
Name Dates
Henry Haven Windsor Jan 1902 - Jun 1924
Henry Haven Windsor Jr Jul 1924 - Dec 1958
Roderick Grant Jan 1959 - Dec 1960
Clifford Hicks Jan 1961 - Sep 1962
Don Dinwiddie Oct 1962 - Sep 1965
Robert Crosley Jul 1966 - Dec 1971
Jim Liston Jan 1972 - Dec 1974
John Linkletter Jan 1975 - Jun 1985
Joe Oldham [15] Aug 1985 - Sep 2004
Jim Meigs [16] Oct 2004 - April 2014
Ryan D'Agostino May 2014 - March 2019
Alexander George March 2019 - Present

*Note that in general, dates are the inclusive issues for which an editor was responsible. For decades, the lead time to go from submission to print was three months, so some of the dates might not correspond exactly with employment dates. As the Popular Mechanics web site has become more dominant and the importance of print issues has declined, editorial changes have more immediate impact.


  • 1986 National Magazine Award in the Leisure Interest category for the Popular Mechanics Woodworking Guide, November 1986. [17][ circular reference]
  • 2008 National Magazine Award in the Personal Service category for its "Know Your Footprint: Energy, Water and Waste" series.
  • The magazine has received eight National Magazine Award nominations, including 2012 nominations in the Magazine of the Year category and the General Excellence category. [18]

Further reading

  • Israel, Paul B. (April 1994). "Enthusiasts and Innovators: 'Possible Dreams' and the 'Innovation Station' at the Henry Ford Museum". Technology and Culture. 35 (2): 396–401. doi: 10.2307/3106308. JSTOR  3106308.
  • Wright, John L. (July 1992). Possible Dreams: Enthusiasm for Technology in America. Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. p. 128. ISBN  978-0-933728-35-6.
  • Bryant, Margaret M. (1977). "New Words from Popular Mechanics". American Speech. 52 (1/2): 39–46. doi: 10.2307/454718. JSTOR  454718.
  • A nearly complete archive of Popular Mechanics issues from 1905 through 2005 is available [19] [20] through Google Books.
  • Popular Mechanics' cover art is the subject of Tom Burns' 2015 Texas Tech PhD dissertation, titled Useful fictions: How Popular Mechanics builds technological literacy through magazine cover illustration. [21]
  • Darren Orr wrote an analysis of the state of Popular Mechanics in 2014 as partial fulfillment of requirements for a master's degree in journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia. [22] [23]


  1. ^ Keith J. Kelly (January 29, 2019). "Popular Mechanics HQ headed to Easton amid Hearst struggles". New York Post.
  2. ^ "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Audit Bureau of Circulations. December 31, 2017. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  3. ^ "Popular Mechanics".
  4. ^ a b Seelhorst, Mary (1992). Wright, John (ed.). Ninety Years of Popular Mechanics. Possible Dreams: Enthusiasm for Technology in America. St. Paul, Minn: Seawell. p. 62.
  5. ^ "The 60-second interview: Ryan D'Agostino, editor-in-chief, Popular Mechanics". Politico.com. October 20, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  6. ^ "Popular Mechanics podcasts".
  7. ^ Whittaker, Wayne (January 1952). "The Story of Popular Mechanics". Popular Mechanics. pp. 127–132, 366–380.
  8. ^ Seelhorst, Mary (October 2002). "In the Driver's Seat". Popular Mechanics: 96.
  9. ^ Seelhorst, Mary (May 2002). "The Art of the Cover: The most memorable covers from the past 100 years and the stories behind them". Popular Mechanics: 94.
  10. ^ Seelhorst, Mary (March 2002). "Zero to 100". Popular Mechanics: 117.
  11. ^ "Popular Mechanics". RamsayMedia.co.za. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  12. ^ Seelhorst, Mary, ed. (2002). The Best of Popular Mechanics, 1902-2002. New York: Hearst Communications. p. 1. ISBN  1-58816-112-9.
  13. ^ "Magazine mocked for how-to guide on taking down statues 'without anyone getting hurt'". Fox News. June 17, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  14. ^ Seelhorst, Mary (October 2002). "In the Driver's Seat". Popular Mechanics: 95–97.
  15. ^ Oldham, Joe (September 2004). "Editor's Notes". Popular Mechanics: 8.
  16. ^ "Ryan D'Agostino Named Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics". April 22, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  17. ^ "National Magazine Awards". Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  18. ^ "Popular Mechanics News and Updates". Hearst Communications. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  19. ^ "Google and Popular Mechanics". Popular Mechanics. December 10, 2008. Archived from the original on December 31, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  20. ^ Ross, James (August 15, 2005). "Google Library Project". Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  21. ^ "Tom Burns (2015)".
  22. ^ Orf, Darren (2013). ""Written So You Can Understand It": The process and people behind creating an issue of Popular Mechanics". Cite journal requires |journal= ( help)
  23. ^ Darren Orf. "Analysis" (PDF). MO Space. Retrieved September 22, 2016.

External links