The Hoffman Electronics Ads (1962)

Hoffman Electronics, a firm that contracted for the Defense Department, commissioned six short-short stories by various well-known SF authors. These stories appeared throughout 1962 as part of advertisements for Hoffman which originally appeared in the pages of Scientific American but were also reprinted in other magazines (such as Fortune).

Other than the tight space constraint — each story had to be less than 2,000 words — the authors apparently had complete freedom in writing the tales and it was up to the advertiser to make any connections between the authors' stories and Hoffman's own inventions. At best, the story was only tenuously linked to a technology in development by Hoffman, but the core theme of the ads was "How Science Fiction Becomes Scientific Fact."

All six ads followed the same format. Each of the two pages is three columns across. On the first page the story begins in the first column, followed by a two-column wide piece of artwork done in black, white, and one other color (appropriately enough, the art for Leiber's story "Mirror" featured shiny silver ink). Page two has two columns of story, with the third column featuring the Hoffman advertisement itself which discusses one of their technological innovations. It is not known who did the artwork for these ads, and my (admittedly unpracticed) eye has only been able to pick out the occasional illegible signature.

(Note: I haven't been able to obtain a copy of the ad containing Heinlein's story. It will be added if I ever manage to find it.)

Images Title Author Month Theme Reprinted In
Itself! A.E. van Vogt January Submarine warfare The Far-Out Worlds of A.E. van Vogt (1968)
My Son, the Physicist Isaac Asimov February Long-range communication Nightfall (1969)
Mirror Fritz Leiber April Parallel dimensions Day Dark, Night Bright (2002)

[German for "wonder cold"]
Frank Riley June Cryogenics Science Fiction: Five Stories (1976)
Searchlight Robert A. Heinlein August Search & rescue Expanded Universe (1980)
Starlight! Isaac Asimov November Stellar navigation Asimov's Mysteries (1968)