Wild West Tech

On the History Channel this week

Hosted by David Carradine, rated PG unless noted

Previous broadcasts:

Alamo Tech
One of the most famous last-stand battles couldn't have happened without a little technology--and we don't just mean guns, cannons, and missiles! The Mexican army also used music, uniforms, and other psychological operations to keep the Alamo defenders off guard. Inside the fort, outnumbered Texans watched the enemy advance, thanks to telescopes, while sharpening their Bowie knives and cleaning their Kentucky rifles in anticipation of the onslaught. The battle began before dawn, and we'll show you how combatants used technology to see in the dark. And you'll learn how the Alamo turned from refuge into deathtrap. See how Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and General Santa Anna all used technology of the day as we "Remember the Alamo!" Hosted by David Carradine. TVPG V, 2004

Biggest Machines in the West
In this episode, we find out that size did matter in the Old West, where cowboys wanted big toys! Big profits required big equipment to dig, dredge, paddle, and plough through the wilds of America. Technology would replace the pan and the pick with massive machines roaming the forests and deserts like dinosaurs, feeding on the minerals above and below the soil. Even weaponry was super-sized! We take a look at the huge and deadly Hotchkiss cannon and the cumbersome Colt Buntline Revolver, carried by famous frontier personalities like Wyatt Earp, Frank and Jesse James, and Judge Roy Bean. And we review the history of the infamous Mankato Gallows, built to execute 38 Dakota warriors at the same time on December 26, 1862 in Minnesota--the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Hosted by David Carradine. TVPG V, 2004

Bounty Hunters
They were the men who wouldn't take no for an answer, pursuing every lead, tracking every trail, and finally, bringing in their man--dead or alive. Follow along with some of the greatest trackers the West ever saw--men hunting human prey, with huge rewards waiting for those who succeeded. Join us as we separate Wild West fact from Hollywood fiction, and meet men like Charlie Siringo, who would travel tens of thousands of miles before he'd let a bail jumper go free; or Frank Hamer, who brought law to the most lawless parts of Texas, and death to the most notorious criminals of the early 20th Century. Hosted by David Carradine. 2005

Brothel Tech
As prospectors and frontiersmen moved west, debauchery followed--and women trekked across the frontier to serve these sex-starved men. We examine the technology used by prostitutes to protect themselves from violence and disease, prevent pregnancy, and occasionally please themselves! Host Keith Carradine takes us back to the 19th century to see how condoms were made, how steam-powered vibrators operated, and how brothel architecture allowed for easy access--and escape! TV-14, 2004

Civil War in the West
The Civil War is thought of as a conflict between North and South. But the West figured into it, too. There were more than 2,000 battles west of the Mississippi River--action stretched clear to the California coast. The rugged, wide-open West presented special challenges for armies. Soldiers had to be hearty--able to maneuver themselves and equipment through ice, snow, and mountain passes. They often improvised with whatever they had. Shovels and belts proved especially useful. Then there were the arid plains, which required armies to adapt in different ways. Men had to cover great distances in order to get food, arms, and other supplies. We'll take a look at the weapons, clothing, transportation, and tools employed on the Civil War's Western Front. Host: David Carradine. 2005

Cowboy Tech
A no-bull episode that roams the range hunting for the gritty truth behind the Old West's most enduring figure. Host Keith Carradine examines the cowboy's trade tools--from saddle to spurs--and undergoes the dangers of a cattle drive. Reenactments show off cowboy skills, including roping, riding, shooting, and branding, as we see how the tradition lives on in rodeos. And, we shoot down reputations as we look behind the myths of legendary cowboys like John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, and Tom Horn. TVPG, 2004

Deadwood Tech
Touted as one of the "liveliest and peculiar places west of the Mississippi", in Deadwood speculators, misfits, and cold-blooded killers came together to stake their claim. Located in South Dakota's Black Hills, in this raunchy, rip-roaring town, primitive technology met bold innovations, commerce and corruption collided, and shootouts were as common as the filth that filled the streets. Examines the good, bad, and ugly technologies of the last and richest gold rush town, including stagecoaches and stagecoach robberies; bull whacking and bull trains; gold counterfeiting; saw mills; smelter and cyanide mills; electric marquees; and mortuary science. And we feature forensic analysis of Wild Bill Hickok's death, and say howdy to a few of Deadwood's other famous characters like Calamity Jane. TVPG V, 2004

Disaster Tech
The frontier was full of rivers that needed taming and mountains begging to be blasted--and our forebears hoisted a hefty bag of tools to help them do it all. But of course, no one expected a frontier so dangerous--or so tempting! Trains, ships, towns--nothing could stop our expansion, until those technological monsters started biting back. Even then, we didn't always learn, and sometimes, it took massive disasters to teach us some very tough lessons. In this episode, we'll see how man's folly, pride, and stupidity led to some of the Wild West's worst catastrophes. TVPG, 2004

Execution Tech
Journey back to the days when justice was swifter than a saloon girl on a Saturday night and examine the horrors of human design that brought terror to the Old West. Sheriffs and judges, desperate to stop the growing onslaught of outlaws, needed grisly technologies to punish and deter murderers, rapists, and rustlers. Join the crowd of onlookers who gathered at the grisly gallows to witness a man gaining infamy at one end of the rope--and sometimes, immortality at the other. Host: Keith Carradine. TV14-L, 2004

Freak Show Tech
The deformed didn't ask to be born...and sometimes, they weren't! Sure, Wild West freak shows featured plenty of people who were different through the circumstances of their birth. But many so-called "freaks" were man-made. Technology helped pull the wool over the eyes of the unsuspecting masses. Freak show operators used every trick in the trade to provide some of the most disturbing "entertainment" the West would ever see. From pickled severed heads to mummified outlaws, we look at the wild, the woolly, the weird, and the swindlers who assured that the freak shows would be unforgettable. Hosted by David Carradine. TVPG, 2004, also see Ripley's Believe it or not

Freak Shows II
For over 100 years, the "freak show" was one of America's most popular and acceptable forms of entertainment. The whole family would venture out to these early museums to see "once in a lifetime" spectacles. Animal curiosities and strangely shaped vegetables quickly gave way to human serpents, savages, simian women, snake eaters, and even the supernatural. Sideshow denizens were the biggest, the smallest, and the strangest people ever to inhabit the West. But there was more! Cowboys and farmhands got a chance to see some freaky technologies, too, at these "cavalcades of perversion." Hosted by David Carradine. TVPG, 2005

They could be violent...wicked...or downright absurd. Whether they helped to take down outlaws, save a life, or just plain amuse, these techno gizmos revolutionized the unruly frontier. This episode looks at contraptions practical--and not--devised to tame the frontier. Objects include Wild West mouse traps, lie detectors, a metal detector (to locate bullets), an Elgin Cutlass Pistol (a Bowie/Revolver in one), kerosene headlamp, electrified brass rails, a self-containing breathing device, stream heat, a syringe, rubber condoms, a donkey engine and much more of the good, the bad and the technologically ugly. 2005

Gambling Tech
Ride on a luxurious riverboat to the rough-and-tumble mining and cattle towns where prospectors and cowboys earned and lost fortunes as we explore Wild West games, techniques, and cheating devices. Meet professional players who made a living by outwitting others, including famous riverboat gamblers George Devol and Canada Bill Jones, and Tombstone duo Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Keith Carradine introduces the rules of each game and demonstrates the types of weaponry gamblers carried. TVPG, 2004

Gang Tech
In the Wild West, no single lawman could possibly stop a gang of desperate outlaws. Host David Carradine recreates stories of the bravest and most brutal hoodlums that ever roamed the rowdy and reckless western wilderness. From the stagecoach bandits of gold-rush California to the bloody scalp-hunters of the Southwestern border, we explore the various personalities, motives, and crimes of each gang. And we examine the sophisticated arsenal that these desperadoes employed to pull off their criminal capers, including the 1841 Mississippi Rifle, the Remington Model 8 Semiautomatic, bulletproof vests, and the deadly Arkansas Toothpick--a long, heavy, balanced dagger synonymous with the American frontier. TVPG V, 2005

Gold Rush Tech
Discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 changed the American West and the world. Thousands of dreamers descended upon California to stake claims, followed by rushes to Nevada, Alaska, Montana, and other territories with the uncovering of silver and copper deposits. Keith Carradine looks at the technology developed to exploit earth's riches--cables, elevators, pumps, ventilators, and drills--as mining went further underground and evolved from a one-man operation to a multi-billion-dollar industry. TVPG, 2004

The Grim Reaper
The trek west was a dangerous one--if the elements didn't get you, disease, hostile people, starvation, and accidents of all kinds could. There were no 911 calls at the time. Hospitals were few and far between. Chances of recovering from illness or mishaps were slim or none. This episode takes a look at how settlers met their deaths. Technology, in particular, played a hand. The reaper, for example, was responsible for the passing of many. As it sped up harvesting, it increased the speed at which farm workers were maimed--or worse. Then there were trains, wild animals, and "friendly" innkeepers, who in the end, weren't so nice. 2005

The Gunslingers
In this series that provides an inside look at the inventions, advancements, concepts, and contraptions of America's Wild West past, host Keith Carradine highlights a special breed of man--the gunslinger--and his weapons of choice. Sometimes he wore a badge, sometimes he fought the law. But he always had a gun at his side--and the willingness to pull the trigger. Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp--we go behind the legends to see how these men were defined by the weapons they carried. TVPG, 2004

Hunting Tech
The Wild West was a vast and bountiful frontier, filled with animals, fur - and opportunity. The men who kept up with the latest advances in technology had a big advantage as they tried to tame the West. Whether it was a change in beaver trap production, a new method of making skinning knives, or increases in the power and accuracy of buffalo rifles, the tools of the hunter shaped the story of the West. On WILD WEST TECH: HUNTING TECH, we look at the evolution of hunting tools and weapons, and how advances in technology made the unthinkable -- the near-extinction of the bison -- a reality. TVPG, 2004

Law & Order Tech
There was nothing harder than being a good guy in the Wild West. When you pinned on a badge, you might as well have worn a bull's-eye on your back. And if you wanted to live to tell your tale, it was wise to keep up with the latest technology. Ride along with U.S. Marshals as they fight a pitched battle against a holed-up fugitive using guns, dynamite, and even a cannon. See how an improvised explosive device helped bring an end to the Texas Fence-Cutter Wars. Find out why famed lawman Wyatt Earp was suspected of being bulletproof. The chase is on in this action-packed hour when host David Carradine gallops through the history of law enforcement technology in the Old West. TVPG V, 2005

Massacre Tech
Mormons massacre a wagon train filled with overland settlers. Horse thieves decimate a camp of Chinese prospectors. Yavapai Indians slay a stagecoach full of passengers. No stranger to the Old West, technology often lent a helping hand to atrocity. From the swivel gun of the 1830s to a makeshift armored car in 1914, host David Carradine looks at the role technology played in some of the most heinous crimes in Wild West history. TVPG V, 2004

Massacres II
Genocide on the untamed frontier? Western technology did much to help--and harm--folks heading West. We examine various incidents, like the Camp Grant Massacre in Tucson, Arizona in April 1871, when a mongrel band of Anglos, Mexicans, and San Xavier Papagos Indians, savagely slew 140 Apache men, women, and children in their sleep. The Goliad Massacre--Texas, March 1836, hundreds of Mexican soldiers executed 342 Texans in a bloody betrayal during the Texas Revolution. The Council House Massacre--March 1840, in San Antonio, when a band of Comanche are blown away by a vengeful volley of gunfire. The Dragoon Springs Massacre--September 1858, in Arizona, stage company workers are brutally murdered in their sleep at the Dragoon Springs Stage Station. The motives for the massacre are still unknown. David Carradine hosts. 2005

Military Tech
Featuring expert demonstrations, we focus on technologies used by the U.S. military after the Civil War in the western frontier, and show how some of the greatest advancements laid the groundwork for America's high-tech future. We spotlight such stories as the Wagon Box Fight in 1867, when 26 soldiers and six civilians fought off 800 mounted Sioux warriors using the new Springfield-Allin breechloading rifle, and Pancho Villa's raid, which ushered in the era of motorized vehicles into the U.S. military. TVPG, 2004

Native American Tech
Explore the might and power of the Native American tribes that once populated the Wild West with host Keith Carradine. We examine their weaponry--tomahawk, lance, slingshot, bow and arrow, and club--and how they cleverly adapted modern weaponry to their own use. You'll learn about their battle strategies as we introduce their most famous leaders, including Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull. And we demonstrate various medicinal and surgical procedures that they used on wounded warriors. TVPG V-L, 2004

Outlaw Tech
We think of outlaws as a primitive bunch, but these badmen were ahead of their time and took advantage of new technology. Host Keith Carradine shows how dynamite and the telegraph assisted criminals, and how photography stole their anonymity. As the 20th century approached, the technology that had helped them outrun authorities caught up with them in the form of a new invention--the automobile. Butch Cassidy, Jesse James, Henry Starr, Black Jack Ketchum, and a few others make appearances. TVPG, 2004

Revenge Tech
It's said revenge is a dish best served cold, but in the Wild West, it was often served with a heaping helping of technology. From a liver-eating madman bent on avenging the death of a loved one to a teenage girl who switched her gender to exact vengeance on her husband's murderer, technology made a uniquely brutal form of frontier justice possible. Host David Carradine guides viewers through the most grizzly stories of score-settling the West ever saw. 2005

The Road West
During the 1800s, the road west in America was a dangerous path into the unknown. As pioneers headed toward a new life, they faced unpredictable weather, uneven trails, and sometimes unforgiving Native Americans. Remarkable feats of engineering, such as blasting mile-long tunnels or building a bridge to span 300 feet across a mighty river, helped tame the frontier. Host David Carradine discovers the amazing advances made by settlers and the technology they used to help them on their journey into the vast wilderness. TVPG, 2005

Saloons were the Wild West's strip malls of sin--your one-stop shop for gambling, booze, and sex. Behind those swinging doors hid technology that titillated...and terrorized. In an action-packed hour, host David Carradine exposes the role that saloon engineering played in the death of the West's most prolific killer, John Wesley Hardin, technology of the saloon brawl, and the secret techniques used by bare-knuckle saloon boxers as they fought in the bloodiest prizefights in American history. TVPG V-L, 2005

Shootout Tech.
Shootouts are a staple of western-themed movies and TV shows. Funny thing is, they weren't everyday occurrences in the Old West. But when they happened they were wild and weird, and liquor was usually the fuel that ignited the spontaneous conflicts. Participants faced off at close range and fired with the technology of the day--the 6-shooter. Host David Carradine examines techniques and tricks employed by some of the best pistoleers around (the terms "gunfighter" and "gunslinger" were coined by Hollywood in the 1950s). We'll show you how practice made perfect and how even the experts needed a little luck to survive as we illustrate various shootout stories brought to life through multi-dimensional graphics. TVPG V, 2005

Six-Shooter Tech
6-shooters--revolvers with six chambers--were as common as cell phones in the Wild West, but when one went off, it was more than annoying--it was most often deadly. A priest, a 16-year-old boy sailing the world, and a covey of cold-blooded killers all played important parts in the development of this classic western weapon. What was missing from Samuel Colt's first revolving handgun? How did Smith & Wesson exploit a technological edge to make millions of dollars? Which six-shooter was prone to blowing up? Join us for a bang-up hour as we examine the advances that made the six-shooter safer and more reliable as a first line of defense...and just as often, as a first line of attack. TVPG V, 2004

Train Tech
Nothing affected settlement of the American West more than construction of the transcontinental railway that connected the Wild West to the civilized East. We spotlight tools as well as techniques used to build tracks, bridges, and tunnels through mountains of solid granite. We also explore technology developed to make trains less vulnerable to bandits and train wrecks--better tracks and rails, arming mechanics with guns, and use of the telegraph as a warning system. Keith Carradine narrates. TVPG, 2004

The Unexplained
Lights in the sky, strange sounds in the woods, vicious attacks that couldn't be explained away.... The Wild West was overflowing with unexplained happenings. Some people even said the skies were filled with UFO's! How did technology help to craft the legends that have scared people for generations? And could technology finally help put some of these enduring myths to rest, once and for all? Join host David Carradine as he enters the Wild West Tech Zone! 2005

In the Old West, there were whores a-plenty and rivers of homemade hooch. Sin was in and available in various flavors. Most vices were still legal back in the 19th century, and inventors could make a fortune creating new technologies to bring them to the masses. Back in the good old days, cocaine was even found in soda pop, and the cure for alcoholism was said to be heroin! Thanks to technology, you didn't have to slump at the opium den, you could get high at home. Take a "trip" out West to the frontier of sex, drugs, and lock'n'load! 2005

Vigilante Tech
In the wilds of the American West, average citizens often stepped into the fray to keep their towns from being taken over by society's dregs. It seemed like pickpockets and pimps rolled into main street the moment gold was struck. And often, it was left up to a few brave men and women to dish out their own brand of justice--vigilante justice, and it wasn't pretty. The hemp neck-tie would string up hundreds of renegades, but vigilantes also needed technology to defend themselves and defeat the most fearsome of criminals. Cannons, forts and even windmills were employed in their "extra-legal" executions. Hosted by David Carradine. TVPG V, 2004
And you thought the Deathwish movies were something new!

Western Towns
Out of hundreds of western towns, a handful survived through technological ingenuity to become icons of the Old West. We discuss why certain areas were chosen for settlement, how the towns sprang up, their construction, water supplies, sanitation, and protection against Indian attack. We learn the layout, which included saloons, dance halls, general stores, undertakers, cemeteries, and of course, jails and court houses. And we discover how the Wild West advertised to lure homesteaders to the frontier. Narrated by Keith Carradine. TVPG L, 2004
Fun facts:
Old time prospectors say that a scorpion will sting itself to death if touched with a single drop of whisky
A robber known as the "Tobin Hill bandit" in Antonio, Texas, demanded a woman's purse at gunpoint. It turned out to be his own wife, who hit him in the face with it.

The Host: David Carradine
Artist, musician, sculptor, writer, composer, Kung-Fu master, film and television icon David Carradine recently returned to the motion picture screen in what was his most exciting role to date, playing the title role in Quentin Tarantinois first movie in five years, Kill Bill Vol. 1&2, reprising his Pulp Fiction role.

In this film noir tale, Bill (Carradine), the head of an all female assassination squad named the "Deadly Vipers" shot down one of his crew "Black Mamba" (Uma Thurman), while pregnant with his child. She survived, though the bullet, inoperably lodged in her brain, kept her in a coma for five years. Awakened, she set out for revenge on her killer and his co-conspirators (Michael Madsen plays Bill's brother, Lucy Liu plays "Cottonmouth", Daryl Hannah as Bill's second-in-command "California Mountain Snake" and Vivica A. Fox as "Copperhead"). Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Miramax) released October, 2003 and Vol. 2 released on April, 2004.

Carradine is the eldest son of the legendary character actor John Carradine, and now presides over an acting family that includes brothers Keith, Robert and Michael Bowen as well as his daughter Kansas and nieces Ever Carradine and Martha Plimpton. He was born in Hollywood and educated at San Francisco State College where he studied theory and composition. It was while writing music for the Drama Departments annual revues that he discovered his own passion for the stage, joining a Shakespearian repertory company and learning his craft on his feet.

After a two-year stint in the Army, he found work in New York as a commercial artist and later found fame on Broadway in the Deputy and The Royal Hunt of The Sun opposite Christopher Plummer. With that experience he returned to Hollywood, landing the short-lived TV series "Shane" before being tapped to star opposite Barbara Hershey in Martin Scorsese's first Hollywood film, Boxcar Bertha (1972). The iconic "Kung Fu" followed, catapulting Carradine to superstardom for the next three years, until he left the series to pursue his film career.

That career now includes more than 100 feature films, a couple of dozen television movies, a whole range of theater on and off Broadway, and another hit series "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues." Carradine received the Best Actor Award from the National Board of Film Review as well as a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Woody Guthrie in Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory, and won critical acclaim for his work as Cole Younger in The Long Riders, which many believe is his best work to date. "Kung Fu" also received seven Emmy nominations in its first season including one for Carradine as Best Actor. In addition he won the People's Prize at the Cannes Film Festival's "Director's Fortnight" for his work on Americana, and a second Golden Globe nomination for his supporting role in "North and South".

Among his other most notable film credits are Gray Lady Down, Mean Streets, Bird on a Wire, The Long Goodbye, You and Me, The Serpentis Egg and Circle of Iron.
Carradine has also continued his devotion to music, and has recorded some 60 tracks from various musical genres and sung in several movies.

Having finished Kill Bill, Carradine recently guest starred on two episodes of the hit show "Alias". As of 2005, he makes his home in Los Angeles with his girlfriend Annie, her four children and their three dogs.

Stuff by David Carradine is available on video and on DVD from Amazon.com including the entire season of "Kung Fu." David is currently starring in the two "Kill Bill" sequels to Pulp Fiction, and defeated Stallone in the sci-fi movie Deathrace 2000

Longtime viewers may note that Keith Carradine hosted the series in its first season (he's currently living with complete savages). Writer Colin Campbell sez:
So, The History Channel (and my bosses at Greystone, the production company that employs me) says, “Hey, we’re switching hosts on the big Wild West Tech show. We had Keith Carradine ... now, we’re getting his brother DAVID Carradine, Mr. Kung Fu & Kill Bill his own bad self. Anybody have cool ideas as to how we can do the switch over?”

I pitched several, and they liked one, and we refined it ... and they still liked it! (Imagine!) So then, I got to shoot it, and include it as part of my show! It was a simple, yet fun idea – Keith loses the hosting job to David playing poker. We were very lucky to get both Keith and David to go along with it, and the History Channel to pay for it!

There’s also a pretty funny gag with the brothers Carradine to close the show (which I won't give away) – so really, all you have to watch is the first five minutes and the last two ... the middle 53 are completely optional. [note: the David-Keith poker game/promo was posted at the History Channel's official Wild West Tech website using Flash animation, but appears to have disappeared]

They even liked my advertising tag line enough to use it in the commercials for the show: “New Season, New Tech ... New Carradine.” That about sums it up...
Fun fact:
While doing research for the "Freak Show" episode of his above TV-series, Colin Campbell ran across the following dating back to Victorian England:
In an 1841 book, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay wrote about the strange phenomenon of buzz phrases which would strike up and become maddeningly popular for a while in London. 'Tuppence more and up goes the donkey'. This saying derives from groups of strolling acrobats who would form a human pyramid and promise to hoist up the poor donkey which carried their props. This saying probably derives from slightly later than Mackay's book, which records pre-Victorian strangeness. But here is an acrobat's testimony (emailed to vitaminq.blogspot.com) to the origin of the phrase:

'I have been an equilibrist for eight years now, playing in the open air or in-doors. I am a slack wire dancer as well. As an equilibrist I balance poles and an 18-foot deal plank on my chin. Formerly I balanced a donkey on the top of a ladder. It's dreadfully hard work; it pulls you all to pieces. Over 30 years of age you feel it more and more. The donkey was strapped tight to the ladder; there was no training needed for the donkey; any young donkey would do. It was frightening at first generally, but got accustomed to it after a time - use is a great thing. The papers attacked the performance and I was taken to Union-hall for balancing by donkey in the streets. I was fined 7s. 6d., and they kept the donkey in default. I never let the donkey fall, and always put it down gently, for I have the use of my hands in that feat. I was the original of the saying, sir. Twopence more, and up goes the donkey. It's a saying still, and a part of the language now.'

Colin also found a website that tells the story of "It's A Wonderful Life" in 30 seconds using bunnies: angryalien.com/1204/wonderful_lifebuns...unless you prefer The Exorcist Bunny

Colin Campbell is a TV writer in Los Angeles after starting out upstairs in the unheated old KSBY building in San Luis Obispo, CA, where the newscaster was a guy named Rick Martell who looked a lot like Ronald Reagan (this was 1989 so it was ok). Then Colin snapped and became a Kerry supporter just to spite Rick, who now has a cable-access show on weekends because he still looks like Ronald Reagan but it doesn't help anymore.

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Fun fact:
When Disneyland first opened, it included a stagecoach ride that had to be discontinued; the old west steam engines of the Disneyland Railroad spooked the horses.

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This entire page © Bill Laidlaw, PO Box 3, Arroyo Grande CA 93421. Plagerized stuff duly noted. Wild West Tech episode descriptions swiped from Historychannel.com