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Hydraulic invention: No need to clamber for theater seating

Next time someone disrupts your evening by clambering in or out of a nearby theatre seat, remember: it needn’t be this way.

In 1924, Louis J Duprey of Dorchester, Massachusetts, patented a system that “permits any patron of the theatre to enter or leave his place without at all disturbing other patrons”. You, the patron, entered vertically, though a trap door, already ensconced on a chair. When you wanted to leave, a discreet twist of a knob activated the machinery in reverse, causing the chair, and you, to quietly sink back down, and out.


—So begins this month’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

NOTE: Years after Mr. Duprey obtained his patent, Flann O’Brien independently created much the same idea — but purely as a comic notion, and with much less detail. See page 37 of the book collection (The Best of Myles) of many of his Irish Times newspaper columns.

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