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Ergonomics, investigation of human physical and mental abilities and the application of this knowledge in products, equipment, and artificial environments.

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Ergonomics, investigation of human physical and mental abilities and the application of this knowledge in products, equipment, and artificial environments. The application of ergonomics can result in products that are safer or easier to use, such as a family car or food mixer. Alternatively, ergonomics can result in better procedures for performing tasks, from changing a nappy to welding. Ergonomists are scientists who have specialized in the study of the interface between people and the things they come into contact with-particularly artificial things. Their work yields information that helps other specialists, such as designers and engineers; to improve the usability of the products they develop. Ergonomists are likely to be involved in the manufacture of vehicles (cars, aeroplanes, and bicycles), household products (kitchen equipment, toys, computers, and furniture), clothing (shoes, sportswear, and jumpers) and many other products. The driver's seat in a car, for example, must be carefully designed to take account of the varying sizes of users. The instrument panel must be designed so as not to confuse the driver by providing excessive or unclear information, being neither too faint nor dazzlingly bright at night, and so on. Both physiologists and psychologists can contribute to the design. Designing products to suit the bodies and abilities of people is not new. Even prehistoric people shaped their tools and weapons to make them easier to use. In the 20th century the search for efficiency of effort and the requirements of mass manufacturing have stimulated research. Psychologists and physiologists have extended knowledge of the workings of our brains and bodies. In 1940 the British psychologist Hywel Murrell joined the Greek terms ergon, meaning work, and nomia, referring to management or organization, to christen the new science. More recently the term "human-factors engineering" has been widely used in place of the word "ergonomics", since it facilitates a distinction between physiological, psychological, and sociological human factors. Today, designers and engineers rely on human-factors research, such as anthropometric data (body measurements) ...read more.


After the Middle Ages, evidence of the manufacture and marketing of toys emerges in Germany, in areas where woodcarving was a traditional craft. Toys were among the many productions of the carvers of Oberammergau, in Bavaria, who were active from the early 16th century. A busy carving community in another Alpine village, Berchtesgaden in Austria, also produced toys among much other carved work in the 17th to 19th centuries. On the southern side of the Alps, the Gr�den valley, now in the Italian Tyrol, supported a vigorous toy industry from the 18th century. Further north, two areas enjoyed toymaking booms in the 19th century: the Meiningen uplands around Sonneberg in Thuringia, where papier-m�ch� was a favourite medium; and, eastward, the Erzgebirge mountains around Seiffen, where woodturning was a speciality. These areas dominated the world toy trade well into the 20th century. Nuremberg, more or less equidistant from each, became their trading centre, from where toys were exported throughout Europe. Throughout this time toymaking remained chiefly a cottage industry. Wholesalers, whom the cottage industries supplied, initially carried with them quantities of samples to show potential buyers. In time, rather than demonstrating the range of their goods through samples, wholesalers began to produce catalogues, illustrated by copper engravings and, later, lithographs. The early 19th-century catalogues of the Nuremberg dealer Georg Bestelmeier show quite complicated toys that reflect contemporary life-market stalls, kitchens, stables, farmyards, barracks. Later catalogues illustrate multitudes of small picturesque figures, both of people and of animals, many of which were too fragile to have survived. These catalogues have therefore become vital documents for toy historians. They also reveal that small-scale versions of musical instruments (fiddles, trumpets, and drums) and weapons of war (swords, guns, and bows and arrows) made especially for children were staple toys in the 18th and 19th centuries, as were hoops, tops, battledores and shuttlecocks, and similar games equipment. The manufacture of lead soldiers was pioneered in Nuremberg in the later 18th century by Hilpert, Heinrichsen, and other makers. ...read more.


The most prominent example is Barbie, the teenage fashion doll created by the American firm Mattel in 1959, followed by Action Man and Sindy Doll. Barbie dolls are now produced with clothes and appearance appropriate for the black and coloured market. Perhaps the biggest change ever seen in the history of toys has been brought about by electronics, which have led to the development of remotely controlled model cars and aeroplanes, and computer science, which has opened up a new market in computer games, which are enjoyed by both children and adults. Learning Toys Pioneer educational reformers, notably Friedrich Froebel and Maria Montessori, were quick to adopt toys as means of inculcating their value-systems in young children. In the 1930s, developmental psychologists systematically charted the stages of infant development, so that toymakers could devise a repertoire of toys linked to developmental stages. Since the 1950s, "the right toy for the right age" has become standard doctrine, not only for individual designers but also for large toy manufacturers, so that infants are now supplied with stimulating toys. History and Collecting The first tentative histories of toys came from within the toy trade; for example, the London toyshop owner W. H. Cremer published Toys for the Little Folks in 1873. In 1900, trade and collectors came together at the Exposition Universelle in Paris to present a historical exhibition of toys, which gave rise to several lavish pioneer works by the antiquary H. R. d'Allemagne. Most books on the history of toys ever since have been written from the point of view of collecting. Toy collecting today, in which the United States is the clear leader generally focuses on such toys as bears and other stuffed animals, model vehicles, automata, dolls and dolls' houses, and board games. It is fuelled by regular auction sales, and by a variety of collectors' periodicals. Toy historians of the future, meanwhile, will be indebted to trade magazines that document national toy industries in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. http://www.londontoy.com/ ...read more.

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