The many new devices that plug into an automobile's cigaret lighter socket are so varied and ingenious that any man on the road can have as many-home and office appliances at his fingertips as Dick Tracy's Flattop Jr. Many of them need no more power to run them than the six or 12 volts DC (most cars since 1955 have the latter, but check before you buy the gadgets) which the automobile's battery supplies—shavers, or coffee makers, or baby-bottle warmers, even auxiliary lights, for instance. For larger portable items (television sets, tape recorders, record players, vacuum cleaners) that are powered by standard 110-volt AC house current, there are inverters made by the American Television and Radio Co. which can be installed either under the dashboard or in the trunk with a remote control unit to the dash. The ATR inverter illustrated here, for instance (model 12T RME, $42.50; others range from $19.50 to $129.50), is about 4x8x9 inches and, with no more drain on the battery than one auto headlight, will easily power one of the new portable TV sets brought out by GE, RCA, Admiral and Emerson. GE's nine-inch set, for instance, a real lightweight at 12½ pounds, thus brings the World Series to your picnic site. Traveling businessmen use them to power dictating machines or wire recorders; General Motors is testing other inverters for use with record players in buses; Adlai Stevenson has had one installed in his campaign plane to power electric typewriters. And inboard motorboats can take TV out to sea. The potential is only as limited as your needs and the 110-volt power.
All the 12-volt or six-volt-powered gadgets only need to have a plug designed to fit the lighter socket (and an extension cord on this order is available). For instant coffee or hot soup along the road the Williamsburg Hot Cup Kit (Lindavap, Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., $9.95) comes in a fiberglass-insulated plaid bag which contains the two-cup heating unit, two plastic cups, two spoons, two plastic food dishes. It has sockets for six, 12 and 110 volts and cords that will work in a motel room as well as off the lighter. Another car coffee machine comes in either one- or four-cup sizes for either six-or 12-volt batteries (J. E. Herdman Co., 520 Seventh Ave., Watervliet, N.Y.; $17.95 for one-cup size, $19.95 for four-cup size). The appliance plugs right into the dashboard, no matter how small, and signifies—by a whistle—the boiling of water after about seven minutes. There is a small but powerful auxiliary light made in Germany of ingenious design that serves as a trouble signal when a red shield is fastened over it, a reading light for a camper's tent without it. When the six- or 12-volt (remember to specify) is on, the base is magnetized and will cling to any metal surface. It has a nickel finish, a 12-foot cord (Hoffritz, 331 Madison Ave., N.Y., $9.95). There is also a baby-bottle warming unit which has a flexible handle that will slip over an auto window or a glove compartment door, a four-foot cord and an automatic switch that starts the warmer when the bottle is inserted (Hankscraft Co., Reedsburg, Wis., $2.89). And—a boon to traveling salesmen and to hunters returning home from the woods—Remington has brought out an electric shaver ($31.50), powered by six-or 12-volt automotive batteries with a cord that fits the cigaret lighter socket and another for home use. It comes packaged with a sun-visor mirror. Now, his car filled with gadgets and the coffee warming on the dashboard, the driver either has to give up smoking or carry his own matches—but other than that, he can have all of the comforts of a house trailer.